First up: Face-lifts
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
And finally, we revisit the completely new entrants to our market
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.
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.
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.