Suzuki Esteem drives into the sunset: Its time for the Swift Sedan

New Delhi: Its curtains for what could be one of the most successful models from Maruti Suzuki's stable, the Esteem.

The company has already halted production of the car, and will be shortly replacing it with a sedan version of its run away success, the Swift.

Introduced in the 1990's as an 'upgrade' to the underpowered Maruti 1000, the Esteem saw Maruti transition an entire nation back to a three-box sedan from the then prevailing trend of hatchbacks. Starting out as competition to the now-antiquated Hindustan Motor's Contessa Classic, the Esteem had a long and fine innings these past 14-odd years, remaining a bestseller despite competition from models which came and went, holding its own in an ever changing market, and developing a loyal fan following. What is interesting, is that the car was actually called the "Swift" in some of the foreign markets where it was sold, including the US.
   
The new Swift sedan would most probably be seen on Indian roads by March 2008, powered by a 1.3 litre petrol engine just as the Esteem was. Later in the year, the diesel version will also come to market.

With the increasing dieselisation of the Indian small cars, Suzuki is already witnessing a demand for its Swift diesel far outstrip what it can supply. Reasonably, the company would not like to cannibalise its sales pipeline for the diesel Swift by bringing out a diesel Swift sedan at this time, industry sources said.

Maruti Suzuki offered a whopping Rs57,000 in discounts, cash-back and loyalty bonuses to clear its inventory of the Esteem this December. The car reportedly sold 1000 units in November, with December figures awaited.

All set to capitalise on the demand for diesel cars, Maruti Suzuki is augmenting capacity of its Manesar plant from the existing one lakh engines per annum to around three lakh engines per annum.