Final round: The ICOTY
Words by Sirish Chandran
We ended the first round musing about perceptions. Now let me tell you how Creta changed perceptions. Unlike Maruti, Hyundai never shied away from bringing in their more expensive cars and SUVs to India. But, like Maruti, Hyundai was always viewed as a maker of cheap, great value, small cars. Then came the Elite i20 and Hyundai got in excess of 10,000 people a month to spend a considerable amount of money on a small car. That laid the foundations for the Creta, a (compact) SUV that 9000 people are putting their money down on every month. That includes my dad, my uncle, five of my cousins, my CA and many, many friends. All spent over Rs 18 lakh – on a Hyundai! And taking a cue from their readers, Indian automotive journos shook off their obsession with affordability and named it the 2016 Indian Car of the Year. It was, and still is, the most expensive car to win the ICOTY gong. Net result? Today nobody raises an eyebrow at the Elantra’s and Tucson’s prices. The Creta’s success means Hyundai is no longer viewed as (only) a maker of cheap and cheerful cars.
That’s what the Hexa needs to do, to change the perception around the brand so that my friend Anoop will drop twenty lakh rupees on a Tata. To stay squeak and rattle free for the next twelve months so that when auto journos get together at the ICOTY farmhouse in Lonavala the Hexa will be considered seriously.
Whether it will win, who can say? What we did do was drive it to our farmhouse outside of Pune, a journey our long term test Creta does every second weekend, and found the Hexa to be quicker, more comfortable, thirstier too but with more space for family or tractor parts or feed for the bulls. And it doesn’t cost that much more than the Creta (three lakh rupees more) to eliminate it from the reckoning for the ultimate prize. It’s only the start of the year but we already have a strong contender for the 2018 ICOTY.