The automotive industry of Pakistan has started gaining some momentum as of late, thanks to numerous automakers having made their triumphant debuts or return to the market. Companies such as KIA, Proton, Hyundai, Changan, Prince DFSK, MG, and a few others have all been making headlines by launching various new products in Pakistan.
However, despite the new launches, there still seems to be a considerable gap in the compact hatchback segment of Pakistan that needs to be filled. An argument could be made that the hatchbacks from the imported car market offer a fair amount of options to the car buyers, but in that case, one would have to significantly increase his or her budget to get a decent daily driver.
However, with the introduction of the Automotive Industry Development and Export Plan (AIDEP 2021-26) on the horizon, there is a likelihood of new products being introduced in Pakistan in the coming days. Bearing that in mind, the local hatchback segment of Pakistan could certainly use a bit more variety for the benefit of both, the people and the industry.
Please note that the following is a speculative article and that none of the cars on the list is yet confirmed for launch in Pakistan. With that said, here’s a list 6 compact hatchbacks that, as per an enthusiast’s opinion, could do well in our automotive market if they are introduced here:
Volkswagen (VW) is regarded as one of the most prolific automakers across the globe for building cars with stout powertrains, rock-solid build quality, and advanced tech and safety features.
A few months ago, it was announced that VW would begin the production of its vehicles in Pakistan in 2022, and the first vehicle that would make its debut here is the VW Amarok pickup truck. The report added that the automaker acquired the greenfield status under the Automotive Development Policy (ADP) 2016-21 and will begin producing the vehicles under that policy.
Volkswagen Polo is one of the most popular hatchbacks from the B-segment of subcompact vehicles, especially across Europe and in the UK. The vehicle also shares most of its mechanical and structural components with Skoda Fabia, SEAT Ibiza, and Audi A1.
The latest generation Mk-6 Polo can be had with 3 engine options. The most common option is a 1.0-liter, 3-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine that makes 73 horsepower and 95 newton-meters of torque, and can be mated to a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.
The vehicle also features some useful tech-and-safety features such as a 6.5-inch smart infotainment screen, driver and passenger airbags, front disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Automatic Climate Control, rear parking sensors, backup camera, immobilizer system, among other optional features.
The vehicle is also sold in India, where it is priced from 6.01 lac Indian Rupees (1.29 million PKR) to 9.92 lac Indian Rupees (2.13 million PKR). If Volkswagen introduces this car in Pakistan at this price point, there is a likelihood that this car would become a huge hit in Pakistan.
Hailing from France, the 2nd generation Peugeot 208 is arguably the best-looking hatchback in its class. Having made its debut in the Geneva Motor Show back in 2019, the vehicle was praised by numerous automotive journalists for its unique serpentine front facia and overall stylistics of the vehicle.
The 208 is one of the most popular vehicles in the countries such as Algeria, Iran, Malaysia, and of course, across Europe and the UK. It is most commonly offered with a 1.2 liter naturally aspirated 3-cylinder petrol engine that makes 75 horsepower and 118 newton-meters of torque and can be paired to a 5-speed manual or an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The vehicle is also offered with an all-electric powertrain in Europe with a 50 kWh battery that allows for 349 kilometers of range. The 208 is has a CCS Combo Type 2 connector and can charge at a rate of up to 100 kW at a fast-charging station.
The vehicle also comes loaded with tech features such as a 7″ smart infotainment system, automatic climate control, driver + passenger + side curtain airbags, USB connectivity, wireless charging pad, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, ABS brakes, and other various driver aids depending on the variant.
It bears mentioning here that last year, a report had surfaced stating that the Groupe PSA, which owns Peugeot, had signed an expression of interest (EoI) and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Lucky Motors Ltd. as per which, 2 entities, – PSA group and Lucky Motors Ltd. – shall assemble, manufacture, market, distribute and sell PSA passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in Pakistan.
However, even by international standards, the hatchback is slightly too expensive. In Morroco, the 2nd-generation Peugeot 208 starts from 123,000 Moroccan Dirham (2.14 million PKR), and the price goes up from there based on the specs and the variant.
Still, the features, looks, and brand prestige of the Peugeot 208 are arguably worth the value.
It really is a pity that Renault decided to call it quits, just when the Pakistani automotive industry is on the cusp of a significant turnaround. Especially considering the fact that the new auto policy shall be designed specifically to facilitate the production and sales of small and environment-friendly vehicles.
Bearing that in mind, the Renault Zoe would have been a good fit for the burgeoning EV market of Pakistan. The European supermini hatchback can be had in the international market with the choice of 3 all-electric powertrains.
The base variant has a 22 kWh battery that powers a 66 kW electric motor which produces 89 hp, 162 Nm of torque, and offers 240 kilometers of max range. The mid-tier variant has a 41 kWh battery that powers an 80 kW electric motor which produces 107 hp, 166 Nm of torque, and offers 400 km of max range. The top-of-the-line trim-level features a 52 kWh that makes 134 hp, 181 Nm of torque, and offers 395 km of range.
Being a modern EV, the Zoe is equipped with a fair amount of modern tech, such as a 10″ driver’s display up front, a 9.3″ modern touch-based infotainment system, LED ambient lighting, e-parking brake, 2 wireless phone charging pads, rear USB outlets, dual airbags, front and rear parking sensors, reverse camera, lane departure warning, blindspot monitoring, among other high-tech features.
The Zoe is expected to be launched in India in October 2021, at a starting price of 800,000 Indian Rupees, which in PKR, is 1.72 million. That might seem cheap on the surface, but do bear in mind that in Pakistan, a majority of the mechanical parts are imported from other countries, resulting in the car becoming much more expensive for the public due to taxes and duties.
However, that might be a moot point at the moment, since there has been complete silence on Renault’s part in terms of their plans to set up shop in Pakistan.
Many moons ago, Hyundai launched the Santro hatchback in the Pakistani market which became quite a bit popular among the car buyers because of the cheap price and a relatively decent amount of comfort. But then, the Korean automotive giant had to leave the country after its partner, Dewan Farooque Motors, went bankrupt in 2004.
Upon its return in partnership with Nishat Group, Hyundai went after the growing crossover SUV market of Pakistan and introduced Hyundai Tucson to compete with the recently introduced KIA Sportage. Recent reports also suggest that automakers shall soon be launching the Elantra Sedan to compete with the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.
In several countries, the i20, Hyundai’s compact family hatchback is one of its mainstay products. The latest generation i20 made its debut in the international market in 2020. It is most commonly offered with a 1.2 liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder petrol engine that makes 82 hp and 115 Nm of torque and can be paired to a 5-speed manual or a 7-speed DCT automatic transmission.
Like all modern hatchbacks on the list, the i20 can be equipped with a 10″ smart infotainment system, a digital driver’s display, steering control for various menus, wireless mobile charging pad upfront as well as USB ports, automatic climate control, tire pressure monitoring, ambient lighting, front dual + side + curtain airbags, parking sensors, ABS Brakes with EBD, and other high-tech options.
The new i20 has also gone on sale in India, with a price tag of 6.8 lac rupees (1.46 million PKR) which goes all the way up to 1.13 million rupees (2.4 million PKR) for the mild-hybrid variant. However, given the features and the futuristic looks of the vehicle, it too can be a great addition to the hatchback segment of Pakistan.
There have been several rumors circling about on various platforms that KIA shall soon be making more additions to its lineup in Pakistan. Many have been speculating that the Korean automaker would most likely introduce a second hatchback to compete with other compact hatchbacks and sedans in the market. The name of that hatchback is KIA Rio.
A handsome-looking little vehicle, the 4th generation KIA Rio made its global debut back in 2016. Since that time, Rio has been fairly popular in regions such as North America, Korea, Mexico, and Algeria.
The vehicle is available with several engine options across the globe. The most common is the Kappa-II 1.4 liter naturally aspirated petrol engine that makes 95 hp, 120 Nm of torque, and can be mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 7-speed DCT automatic transmission.
Bear in mind that the KIA Rio is still a generation old as compared to its competition. But still, the vehicle has the basic features such as six airbags, parking sensors all around, ABS brakes, stability control, hill-start assist, multiple drive modes, steering controls, 8″ infotainment unit, USB connectivity, reversing camera, and other features,
Being that the Rio hatchback fits in between the 2 segments, i.e. the compact hatchback and the compact sedan segments, it is also priced accordingly. In the US, Rio can be had with a base price of $16,990, which is almost Rs. 2.7 million in Pakistan, which makes it an expensive vehicle. However, Rio is a well-liked car and can present some tough competition in the hatchback segment of Pakistan.
Javed Afridi has tweeted so many times about this car that, at this point, it would be a crime if it didn’t debut here in Pakistan. The compact hatchback has been receiving a lot of love and attention from enthusiasts due to the attractive and high-end look of the car.
The vehicle is a 2nd generation hatchback that was given a drastic makeover in 2018 for a more modern look. For those wondering, the MG 3 is a subcompact hatchback that competes against the Suzuki Swift and Toyota Vitz.
Since its facelift, the MG 3 is being offered in the international market with two engine options, one of which is a 1.5- liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engine that makes 105 hp and 137 Nm of torque. The other is also a 1.5-liter four-cylinder petrol engine, but it makes 109 hp and 150 Nm of torque. The former comes with a 5-speed manual and the latter comes with a 4-speed automatic transmission.
In terms of tech features, the MG 3 is available with the standard eight-inch touch-sensitive infotainment screen, Sat-Nav, rear parking sensors, a reverse camera with dynamic guidelines, multi-media controls on the steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, six airbags, emergency braking assistance, an electronic stability program, an active cornering brake control system, hill hold control, ABS brakes, among other features.
In China, the MG 3 hatchback starts from 69,700 Yuan (Rs. 1.74 million) and goes up to 76,600 Yuan (Rs. 1.91 million), which is reasonable as it has a large variety of features, impressive performance, and a decent look.
An argument could be made that the imported hatchbacks such as Toyota Vitz, Passo, Honda Fit, and a whole host of 660cc hatchbacks are a better alternative. There is no denying the fact that the imported vehicles have a market of their own but with more options and competition in the market, there would no longer be a need to buy uber-expensive imported cars.
Plus, do note that the aforementioned vehicles – except for the Zoe – are all from the automakers that are already operating or are looking to set up their production plants in Pakistan, which implies that there is a viable probability for those cars to be introduced here in Pakistan. Let us hope and pray that our speculation serves us well.