Car design is something Indian buyers take very seriously, and good looks are of paramount importance these days. Auto manufacturers know this, and spend huge amounts on product styling, in an effort to offer that little bit of extra glam to the customer. And we're not talking Audis or Bimaz here, but even affordable cars have to be attractive to have a shot at success.
So we've picked out 10 exterior design features of affordable cars in India that deserve recognition, because the designers have got it right, and that's no easy (or very common) feat. See if something about your car was one of our fine-A-lists.
1. Hyundai Elite i20: Break Light Tradition
Hyundai car design never looked back since Peter Schreyer took over as Chief Design Officer, and the Elite i20 is easily one of the best looking hatchbacks available today. We took a particular liking to the stunning tail lamp design, with its striking three-bit cluster. Even several cars in much higher price brackets don't boast of this level of detail and quality.
2. Tata Zest: Daytime Runner Up. Check. Winner
Not too many affordable cars have this feature even-in fact, last time we checked, only the Maruti Swift, the Hyundai i20 and the Tata Zest have DRLs (Daytime Running Lights). But the best designed runners are the Zest's, by a long shot, and are classy and restrained unlike the gaudy i20 light design especially.
3. Ford EcoSport: Handle With Care
This is one of the cleverest styling ideas we've seen in a while, and the manner in which the rear tailgate handle was integrated into the tail lamp cluster kicks design butt. The chrome doesn't look garish, but actually camouflages itself nicely with the clear lens indicator. Genius, Ford, simply genius.
4. Toyota Etios Liva TRD Sportivo: Alloy Boy Toy
Nice alloys are one of the best ways to lift the looks of your car, but it's not often that you see designs that stand out from the rest. We fell in love with the 12-spoke dark grey-finished mags on the TRD Sportivo version of the Etios Liva. These are wheels with intent and thus win this round, because it's rare to see genuinely well-styled sporty wheels in this country.
5. Mahindra Scorpio: Venting Aggression
The air intake on the new Scorpio's bonnet wouldn't be out of place on a performance car with 700 horses, but the much-loved SUV ain't no slow coach, and pulls it off brilliantly. It was a very distinguishable feature on the old Scorpio, and we're very glad to see it get even more aggressive on the new model.
6. Fiat Avventura: Far From The Cladding Crowd
Manufacturers often use body cladding on crossovers and SUVs to provide the exterior design with a dose of butch. But it doesn't always work, take the Volkswagen Cross Polo for example, where it actually seems to visually lower the car, instead of working the opposite way. But the Italians showed the way here in the Fiat Avventura's neat, yet macho, bodywork, and hence makes the cut.
7. Tata Bolt: Headlight Screwed On The Right Way
The blacked-out projector headlamp on the Tata Bolt takes the Best Headlight design. It's great to see such a brilliantly-detailed and very upmarket looking design, especially in the hatchback segment. Tata design sure has come a long way, and we can't wait for what's next from the giant auto manufacturer now, judging by what's come rolling off the production line recently.
8. Skoda Rapid: Grille To Order
We really like the blacked-out stuff as you might have guessed, but Skoda's revision of their grille colour scheme for the Rapid from chrome to black has really worked wonders for the car. The gloss-black grille contrasts nicely with the body paint and gives it plenty sporty character too. Too bad the black didn't accompany an RS version though...
9. Hyundai Verna: Epic Fog Up
We've gotten used to unimaginative circular designs for fog lamps, so the facelifted Verna's asymmetric styling for the fog lamps really caught our eye. The lamps look brilliantly original, and keep in theme to the similarly-shaped rear foggies as well.
10. Fiat Avventura: Spare Care
The Avventura is a genuinely good looking vehicle and has featured on this list already, but is here for the second time because of the great looking external spare wheel cover. With a quality finish, tasteful two-tone colour scheme, and a nice and chunky grab handle, the wheel cover impressed us enough to hand over a second visual design honour.
11. Volkswagen Polo: Mirror Mirror
Which one is the fairest of them all? We think it's the OVRM styling of the VW Polo that stands out from the rest. It's got German class written all over its two-tone design, through the lower bit extending out from the window and beautifully merging with the hinge. Yes, we check out mirrors too.
12. Renault Duster: Male Gender Fender
The pronounced and muscular wheel arches of the Duster are one of the most aggressive around, and lend the car an impression of stability and planted-ness. As a result, despite its relatively small dimensions, the Renault Duster looks bigger than it actually is, and ranks surprisingly high on the macho quotient.