And the hatchback sails on

Mohini Bhatnagar 24 June 2003 Mumbai: The launch of the Corsa Sail by General Motors India (GMI) has lent some excitement to premium hatchbacks again. The previous such launch was that of the Palio by Fiat India in 2001.

At the time Fiat India had the Siena and the Uno in the market, both of which were witnessing stagnating sales. When it was launched, the Palio worked wonders for Fiat India, at least in the initial six months.

The car helped Fiat sell 32,111 cars in 2002 as against 13,478 units in 2001 - an increase of 138 per cent. Later, in June 2002, the company crossed the 4,000-mark in car sales, registering a 605-per cent growth against a total of 570 vehicles sold in the corresponding period of 2001.

Of the total 4,020 cars sold in 2002, the Palio accounted for 3,357 units, the Sienna 519 units, while the sales of the Palio Adventure and the Uno were at 64 and 80 units, respectively. No doubt, the Palio - with its engine size, brake horsepower and torque - was a winner at least in the initial six months but at the same time, significantly, the Siena's sales remained the same after the launch and even after Fiat India came out with a 'New Siena.'

Both the Palio and the Siena are identical except that the Palio is a two-box car while the Siena is a three-box sedan. Both are built on Fiat's platform 178; all cars built on this platform share the same spares and chassis. While this minimises the cost of spares it also reduces inventory-carrying costs. Another difference is that the Palio is Rs 1 lakh cheaper than the Siena.

There is little difference between the Opel Corsa and the Corsa Sail. The 1.4-litre Corsa produces 88 bhp with a torque of 110 nm at 3200 rpm and the same goes for the Sail. Similarly, the upper variant of the Sail displaces 1598 CC and develops 91 bhp at 5600 revs and 12.6 kgm at 3200 rpm. The Opel Corsa sedan's respective figures are identical.