13 Cars in 12 Months – 2016 A Year in Review

As 2017 finally crawls its way to our calendars, we take a moment to recap the year 2016, which without a doubt will be remembered as one of the most prolific years in Pakistan’s automotive history. A year which gave our industry, a much needed Auto Development Policy; a policy which, despite its flaws, looks poised to play a dominant role in the future. The catalyzing factor is already evident in the fact that Pakistan’s auto market greeted thirteen new cars in a period of twelve months.

First up: Face-lifts

1) Land Cruiser
Midway through 2016, we saw the long-awaited official release of Land Cruiser’s mid-cycle update in Pakistan. While a Land Cruiser update launching in Pakistan isn’t that appealing even to the class of buyers who happen to own Land Cruisers, mainly due to its over-inflated price tag, a deflated feature sheet and a delayed launch. However, as with every other car’s official launch in the country, its official release under the umbrella of Toyota Indus, guarantees the service and spare parts availability for the refreshed Land Cruiser.
2) Toyota Avanza
Toyota Avanza PakistanAvanza, which has for long held its place as a line-up filler for Toyota Indus, received a facelift in the end of August this year. And as with most mid-cycle updates, it crawled its way to our market without much buzz. Moreover, it remains tough to argue, whether or not, some modest updates will change the fate of Avanza in Pakistan, especially when we see it sustaining its PKR 3.0 million price-tag. Which serves again as a testament to the prevailing ignorance of automakers over the prospects of Multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) in Pakistan.
3) Audi A3
2017 Audi A3 in Pakistan
Audi A3 Facelift in Pakistan

Following Audi A3’s global launch, October 2016 saw the release of A3’s mid-cycle update in Pakistan. Highlights of A3’s refresh included a bolder overall look complimented by newly designed tail lamps and LED headlamps, which now come standard in Pakistan. Most important and probably the most positive takeaway from A3’s mid-cycle refresh was Audi’s decision to drop its price to PKR 4.0 million, making it an ever-so more attractive option for buyers, who reside in the region currently over occupied by a plethora of crossovers.

November, saw the muted launch of Q3, when Audi updated their entry-level, crossover in Pakistan without much buzz. Following the footsteps of its sedan sibling, Q3 too received mild aesthetic changes on the outside in addition to a not-so-anticipated half a million rupees reduction in price, which means that Q3 now starts at PKR 5.25 million.
5) Honda Accord
Accord’s mid-cycle refresh came in three years after Honda Atlas initially started selling the ninth generation Accord in Pakistan. Despite being outfitted with cosmetic reinforcements, Accord remains a subject to criticism mainly due to its overwhelming PKR 11.25 million price-tag, owing to the high customs duty applicable on CBUs with engines larger than 1.8-liters under the hood.

Next on the list are the iterative updates

6) Honda Civic
PKDM 2016 Honda Civic VTEC Turbo
PKDM 2016 Honda Civic VTEC Turbo

The tenth generation Civic’s launch in Pakistan was perhaps the most hyped and the most controversial release of the year. When Honda Civic made its way to showroom floors in the end of July, it was fueled by months of speculations, leaked images and curiosity. And while the sales figures did impress, Civic’s hurried roll out was bogged down by quality concerns that led to delayed shipments and made Civic’s launch a mixed affair for Honda Atlas.

7) Mercedes E-Class
The fifth generation Mercedes E-Class meandered its way to Pakistan in November this year. The launch took place at a private event organized by Shahnawaz Motors, just months after its global debut at 2016 North American International Auto Show. As with every other Mercedes-Benz car, eyebrows were raised when Shahnawaz Motors revealed the pricing for the new E class, which start at a steep PKR 11.99 million, but then again, even an Accord, which is merely a mid-sized sedan, comes with a hefty 11.25 million rupee price tag in Pakistan.
8 & 9) Toyota Hilux Revo & Fortuneryoulou
After waiting for over a year, Toyota Indus finally launched both Hilux Revo and Fortuner simultaneously in Pakistan to end the year on a high note. While the pricing of Fortuner is yet to be declared by Toyota Indus, Hilux now starts at PKR 2.26 million for the single cabin base variant going all the way up to PKR 4.2 million for a fully loaded Hilux Revo.
Toyota-Prius-2016Probably the most stealth of all the iterative updates that came out this year was the launch of fourth-generation Toyota Prius which was noticed only when Toyota Indus updated their website in December to reflect over the launch of Hilux Revo and Fortuner. That makes sense because after all, the only notable contribution an officially available CBU makes in our market is that it opens the gates for service and spare parts through company’s official dealerships, which also explains the muted release of the other two line-up fillers of Toyota Indus; Avanza and Land Cruiser. While it remains to be seen if the new Prius winds up being a failure in Pakistan, one positive takeaway now comes in the form of price, which at PKR 4.49 million. This price tag is not that far fetched when compared with the market mean of fourth generation Prius Japanese imports currently available, which too have been met with a lukewarm market response.

And finally, we revisit the completely new entrants to our market

The recently introduced Honda HR-V.
Following the immensely successful run of its hybrid sibling in our market, 2016, started off with a much-anticipated launch of Honda HR-V in Pakistan. While the HR-V has not seen much of a success owing to it being a CBU and being priced at a not-too pocket-friendly PKR 3.6 million despite being under-featured in the first place, it did help Honda Atlas expand its “official” line-up and contributed in alleviating the “servicing” concerns of Honda Vezel owners in Pakistan.

12) BMW X1
Dewan Motors decision to launch BMW X1 in Pakistan was probably one of the many shock-announcements that made way in 2016. The release of BMW X1 was met with mixed opinions because while X1 came with an eye-catching starting price of just PKR 3.99 million, it did disappoint in the department of onboard features, which is usually considered as a German ‘niche’. Despite the fact that it did not come with cruise-control in its standard configuration, Dewan Motors reports having received over one hundred and twenty orders in the first phase of reservations. No matter how successful X1 turns out to be in the longer run, it did point one thing clear, and that was Dewan Motors’ return to the auto market with some serious intent after years of dormancy.
13) Suzuki Vitara
Following some weeks of speculation, Pak Suzuki took the wraps off Vitara on the 21st of December to help 2016 end on a high note. Coming in as the only new crossover option with standard all-wheel drive capability thanks to Suzuki’s all-grip, Vitara does have a differentiating factor up its sleeve. Labelled as a “game changer” by Pak Suzuki, Vitara has a lot resting on its shoulders to break the stereotypes usually associated with Suzuki in Pakistan and to prove itself as a formidable option, despite carrying an overwhelming PKR 3.49 million starting price.
In addition to being an exciting year for our auto market, 2016 will unarguably be recalled as a year that contributed a great deal to the widespread acceptance of CUVs (compact utility vehicles) in Pakistan.
Initially beginning with the launch of Honda HR-V, 2016 wraps up with the release of Suzuki Vitara, which joins a growing list of options in the sub-PKR 3.0-4.0 million price tag that now already features three crossovers with one more on its way to being launched in 2017.
And as we wrap up one of the most exciting motoring years in our country’s history, we wish you a prosperous 2017! Happy Motoring!
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