Maruti Suzuki is planning to replace the Esteem with a car named Dezire, a sedan, based on the Swift platform.
New Delhi: Maruti Suzuki is planning to replace the Esteem with a car named Dezire, a sedan, based on the Swift platform.
Expected to be priced in the Rs4.7 lakh and Rs6 lakh range the Dezire is essentially a three-box version of the Swift hatchback. Most of the design and engineering on the Dezire is said to have been carried out by Maruti's own engineers in India. The car will be manufactured only in India for the international markets.
To be available in both petrol and diesel fuel options, sources say the Dezire will be positioned as a practical family car; It will have wider rear space and more leg room. Being a three-box sedan, the Dezire will be longer than the 3695mm Swift hatchback, but may be under the four-metre length norm passenger cars need to qualify for the compact car tag to avail of excise duty benefits.
The Swift and Dezire share the 1.3-liter G-series gas engine from the Esteem. The car will be available in a 1.3-litre petrol and a 1.3 litre DDiS multijet diesel engine versions, currently also being offered in the Swift hatchback.
According to industry sources, the Dezire will offer a host of contemporary new features not present in the Esteem and also not available in any of the current lot of mid-sized cars.
The car is being given luxury features like twin front ABS and Auto Temp Control. The top line variant will have a new integrated DIN Stereo and a new set of alloy wheels. The company is said to be working on changes in the grille, fog lamp and the tail lights to distinguish the Dezire from the Swift hatchback.
Launched about 15 years ago, the mid sized Esteem with its 1300cc engine has been one of the most popular mid-size cars. Following its decision to phase out the model, Maruti began cutting production of the Esteem in April 2007, stopping it completely from 24 December 2007.
The model was Maruti's first sedan marketed in the country and was initially called the Maruti 1000. It was later renamed Esteem when it was given a larger 1.3cc engine.
According to industry figures, from an estimated 1,533 units rolled out in April, production fell to just 497 units in November, a decline of 68 per cent. However, in August this year, the company produced an estimated 1,903 units which, sources say, was to build up inventory that could later be sold over a period of time.
In contrast, Maruti is targeting sales of at least 3,000 units of the Dezire per month, and to achieve that the Swift sedan is likely to be aggressively priced.
Phasing out the Esteem was inevitable for Maruti as auto companies have to comply with the more stringent Bharat Stage III emission norms for passenger cars, with effect from 1 April this year. The new norms are so strict that many of the existing diesel cars are not expected to be able to comply with them.
As a result, companies such as Maruti Udyog and Ford India have had to alter the strategies for their diesel-driven vehicles. Maruti decided to discontinue production of the diesel versions of its popular Zen and Esteem models. The company says it will continue to service the existing Zen Di and Esteem Di vehicles in the market and the discontinuance of these diesel-powered vehicles will not hit sales substantially as these vehicles were not big sellers.
The launch of the Dezire is also in tune with the company's strategy to replace an older and much flogged model with a newer and fresher one. Hence the Dezire replaces the Esteem while the Estilo replaced Zen (See: Maruti's Zen reborn as Estilo).
The newer mid-sized model will compete with Hyundai Accent, Ford Ikon, General Motors Aveo and Mahindra Renault Logan in a fast overcrowding mid size passenger car market.