The sparkle of ‘D’ segment cars died a premature death in India and the only sedan that still clocks a decent sales figure is the Toyota Corolla. There was a time when Skoda’s Octavia and Honda’s Civic were heroes in the segment, but no matter how aggressively the manufacturers play the sedan game in the Rs 12-20 lakh bracket, it doesn’t seem to be reaping great benefits. The advent of crossovers and SUVs like the Mahindra XUV500, and most recently the Hyundai Creta has further eaten into the sedan volumes.
So, as logic would dictate, for any sensible car manufacturer, it’ll make sense to introduce an SUV in this segment to be able to make any noticeable impact. The trouble is, the manufacturer here in question is Isuzu — a relatively unestablished automotive brand in India, and one which, at best, is recalled as maker of commercial vehicles.
Isuzu, at the recently concluded Auto Expo, announced that it will launch a product at around the Rs 15 lakh mark for private registration. The product, called D-Max V-Cross, will be, as marketed by the company, an ‘adventure utility vehicle’. The D-Max V-Cross is essentially a pick-up and will be an interesting rival to the traditionally established SUV shapes like the XUV500 and crossover vehicles like the Creta. The D-Max V-Cross is a fairly large car — over 5 metres in length — and should manage to look quite imposing, especially against compact vehicles like the Creta.
It’s an oblique approach by the Japanese manufacturer, but it aims to make the pick-up body style popular through niche positioning in the segment that’s dominated by conventional SUV shapes.
In the international market, Isuzu sells a trim of the V-Cross that offers lockable cargo cover with aero spoiler which gives it a pronounced ‘Ute’ look — a slightly coupe-esque rear, if you will. It may not be an immediately acceptable design, but it definitely should make people take notice of the car. It should be noted that Tata and Mahindra, which are big-sales-number manufacturers, have both marketed pick-up vehicles in form of Xenon and Scorpio Getaway, respectively, but haven’t really been able to make a curious case for them in the market yet. Yet, for a niche player like Isuzu that isn’t focussed on chasing numbers as aggressively, this might be a good opportunity purely from the point of view of creating buzz about its brand in the market.
At the official event, Susumu Hosoi, Chairman & Representative Director, Isuzu Motors Limited, Japan, said, “India is gaining huge significance in the global arena, thanks to the fast moving economy and thrust on various growth factors. This has helped in promoting a ‘sense of optimism’ in the country. A country with such zeal and dynamism needs a brand that exemplifies the positivity it enjoys. ISUZU will support the endeavour to ‘Make in India’ with its brand promise ‘Never Stop’ and bring out products that will support the growing aspirations of Indians”.
Naohiro Yamaguchi, Managing Director, Isuzu Motors India, sounded quite optimistic about the pick-up segment and said, “The pick-up market in India is expected to grow manifold and ISUZU has laid strong emphasis on offering a range of its latest D-Max products. We have sensed intense anticipation for a thorough-bred Adventure Utility Vehicle, amongst Indians. To satisfy the sense of adventure, we have introduced India’s first ‘Adventure Utility Vehicle’, the “ISUZU D-Max V-Cross”. The new ISUZU D-MAX V-Cross will excite the pulse of every adventurous Indian as it has done in other parts of the world. The new range of commercial purpose ISUZU D-Max pick-ups will continue to be a preferred pick-up for many business enterprises, thanks to the versatility and functionality it offers.”
Isuzu will offer the D-Max in various 4X4 and 4X2 configurations, with a combination of Crew Cab / Single Cab, High Ride / Normal Ride and flat deck / arch-deck load bodies in the commercial space, and a 4WD V-Cross (the tag is unique to personal lifestyle vehicles) for private registration.
We’ve also learned that Isuzu is currently doing a market feasibility study for its 7-seater SUV, MU-X, which, if cleared, should go on sale in India by early-to-mid next year.