Pakistan’s subcompact sedan market is fairly strong but lacks variety. Although a new player — the Changan Alsvin — has recently entered the market, the Toyota Corolla (lately replaced by the Toyota Yaris) and the Honda City have ruled the compact sedan segment for the longest time.
With the automotive market progressing in an upward trajectory, it is likely that more new players may enter the B-segment sedan market in the coming days.
This article highlights the five B-segment sedans that will do well in the Pakistani market.
A sedan from Italy, the 1st generation Fiat Tipo/Ægea has been among some of the most desirable small cars in Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Europe, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Argentina.
It was debuted at the Istanbul Motor Show in 2015 and the automaker produced the 500,000th unit of the car in 2019 in Turkey where it is still in production.
The Tipo is offered with seven different engine options depending on the demands of certain markets. The most common option is the 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder, naturally aspirated petrol engine that makes 108 hp and 152 Nm of torque, and can be mated to a 6-speed Aisin automatic transmission.
The vehicle comes as the standard in the international market featuring a 10-inch smart infotainment screen, driver and passenger airbags, front disc brakes with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD), Brake Assist (BA), Automatic Climate Control, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Collision Warning, Parking Sensors, a Backup Camera, and an Immobilizer System.
The price of the Tipo starts at 134,000 Lira (2.62 million PKR) in Turkey and goes up to over 200,000 Lira (3.9 million PKR) depending on how the car is optioned. If it is launched in Pakistan with a proper dealership network and after-sales services while being kept in the lower range of its price bracket, it could become popular here.
Given the popularity of Japanese cars in Pakistan due to their reliability, it is a shame that a Japanese car company as well-known and as reliable as Mazda does not operate here. If Mazda was to debut in Pakistan, this is the car that it should bring in first.
The 4th generation Mazda 2 was debuted at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show in the hatchback form, and the sedan came later the same year at the Thailand International Motor Expo. It has been fairly popular in the USA, Europe, Japan, Australia, and Thailand where it is still manufactured and sold.
Although the vehicle comes with four powertrain options in the international market, the most common option is the 1.5-litre Skyactiv-G, naturally-aspirated 4-cylinder petrol engine that makes 113 hp and 148 Nm of torque, and is mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic gearbox. It is also offered as a mild hybrid with the same engine paired with an electric motor and a 24-volt lithium-ion battery in certain markets.
Its other features include a seven-inch smart infotainment touch screen, steering-mounted controls, six airbags, lane keep assist, traction and stability control, hill start assist, parking sensors, collision warning, ABS, EBD, BA, and autonomous braking among other options.
In Thailand, the car can be had between ฿546,000 (2.73 million PKR) and ฿799,000 (3.9 million PKR), which is a bit more than what Pakistanis would be willing to pay for a small car. However, if it is introduced at a price range of Rs. 2.5 million to Rs. 3 million, it could do well.
The Volkswagen (VW) is one of the most prolific automakers worldwide known for developing technologically advanced and well-built cars.
The VW Virtus is the sedan version of the VW Polo, which is one of the most popular subcompact hatchbacks especially across Europe and in the UK. It is manufactured in Brazil and is sold across most of Latin America.
The Virtus comes with three engine options, and the most common one is a 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine that makes 110 hp and 155 Nm of torque, and can be mated to a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed DSG automatic transmission.
The Virtus comes as the standard with a 6.5-inch smart infotainment screen, driver and passenger airbags, front disc brakes, ABS, EBD, BA, Automatic Climate Control, parking sensors, a backup camera, and an immobilizer system among other options.
The car will soon also be launched in India at an estimated price of 1.5 million INR, which is about 3.2 million PKR.
VW made headlines in Pakistan a few months ago after it was revealed that it would begin producing its vehicles here in 2022. The report detailed that the automaker had acquired the greenfield status under the Automotive Development Policy (ADP) 2016-21 and would begin producing its vehicles under it, which implies that VW may enter Pakistan’s passenger vehicle segment, and the Virtus could be its trump card.
Ever since its return to Pakistan, Hyundai has been one of the most talked-about automakers in the market. Hyundai Nishat launched the Tucson SUV and the Elantra sedan in Pakistan in mid-2020 and early 2021 respectively. Although both the cars received impressive responses from the public, they have had a limited number of buyers due to their prices.
To establish more relevance in a market that is dominated by the Japanese trio, Hyundai needs to introduce a car that is within the reach of a larger customer base, such as the Accent.
The Hyundai Accent is mostly offered with several powertrain options across various markets in the world, the most common of which is a 1.5-litre, naturally aspirated 4-cylinder MPi petrol engine that makes 113 hp and 144 Nm of torque, and is paired to either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DCT automatic gearbox.
The vehicle can be had as standard in the international market with an eight-inch smart infotainment screen, an automatic AC, a wireless phone charger, cruise control, six airbags, electronic stability control, tyre pressure monitoring system, ABS, EBD, a vehicle stability management system, and front parking sensors.
The Accent is also sold in India as the ‘Verna’, starting at a price tag of 9,30,000 INR (1.98 million PKR) that goes up to 1.38 million rupees (2.95 million PKR). However, given its features, the Accent can be a fierce competitor in the B-segment sedan market of Pakistan.
It has been rumored for months that Kia will soon be making more additions to its lineup in Pakistan. Many have been speculating that the Korean automaker will introduce a subcompact car called the Rio to compete with the other B-segment sedans in the market.
The 4th generation Rio sedan was debuted in 2016 at the Paris Motor Show, and has since been fairly popular in North America, Korea, Mexico, Algeria, Russia, and even China where it is sold as the ‘K2’.
The vehicle is available with several engine options across the globe, of which the most common is the Gamma-II 1.6-liter, naturally aspirated petrol engine that makes 121 hp and 151 Nm of torque, and can be mated to either a 5-speed manual or a 7-speed DCT automatic transmission.
Furthermore, the vehicle comes as the standard with basic features like six airbags, parking sensors all around, ABS brakes, stability control, hill-start assist, multiple drive modes, steering controls, an eight-inch infotainment unit, USB connectivity, and a reversing camera.
The base price of the Rio sedan in the USA is 16,050 USD, which is almost 2.5 million PKR, making it about the same price as its competition in the Pakistani market. However, the Rio is popular and can bring tough competition to the B-segment cars in Pakistan.
It may be argued that the aforementioned cars are too pricey for the common man but the Pakistani market is in desperate need of healthy competition between the carmakers. More choices would mean a more market-competitive pricing strategy from the car companies, better products, and a bigger lobby of automakers to vouch for better auto-policy formation to nurture the automotive market.
The recent progression in the auto industry has been a ray of hope for both the public and the industry stakeholders. In order to bolster this upward trend, the government must welcome more players to the market and create a wave of healthy competition to lead the local auto industry towards progress.