I have often found myself dreaming up different variants of cars currently sold in India. I am sure that there are at least a million other enthusiasts out there who have felt the same way and believe that it would be a great idea for manufacturers to dump the rules and bring out one exciting product to add to their product portfolio that caters to the enthusiast.
This obviously goes beyond conforming to the norms – small cars must be fitted with small engines and should measure 4000mm in length, or that mileage is the holy grail of everything. Yes, these are important elements; however there is a space that exists between the fine lines of Government stipulation and rules that would allow for an out and out enthusiast model to exist. Forget the numbers, forget the sales targets, just for once dump the ‘Big Brother’ tag and go back to the basics of motoring delight. The rub off on such a plan would make all the right noise and eventually result in more business. A testament to this is the performance wings of Mercedes-Benz and BMW. Both AMG and the M vehicles are designed for the car enthusiast. Sure they don’t sell in big numbers, but the aura that they create for the brand is where the real value is. Taking this line of thought a little further, I figured that just about every manufacturer could benefit by having a product in their portfolio that caters to the enthusiast. After all, it is the enthusiast who is the greatest influencer!
Digging a little deeper, I eventually stumbled upon the idea of manufacturers conducting an engine swap within their product portfolio and on the face of it; the idea doesn’t seem as expensive as going in for a complete specialist outfit like AMG or the M Division. By playing with what they currently have, manufacturers could technically come up with some awesome products.
To add a little more perspective to what I’m getting at, I sat down with my team here at the MotorScribes office in order to draw up a list of the ten engine swaps we would love to see happen in order to spawn some rather interesting variants. You can choose to agree or disagree, that is what such products driven by emotion would demand, however I do hope you enjoy going through the list that we have put together without being too over the top and keeping a hint of practicality in the fray as well. So, let’s get started!
The Maruti Suzuki Swift 1.4 RS
The Maruti Suzuki Swift has been around for a while and since there is a new one that is set to debut later this year, it just might be a good time to get going with this whole concept of offering one ‘hot’ variant as part of the product line up. What I have in mind is an RS version that comes fitted with the 1.4 petrol engine straight out of the Ciaz. While this will place this particular version of the Swift out of the ‘small car’ segment as defined by the Indian Government, it will be the Swift model for enthusiasts. On that note, I wouldn’t mind the Swift with the 1.0 Boosterjet engine either – and that would keep it within small car limits as well! It was the original ‘hot hatch’ for the Indian market and an engine swap along these lines could definitely up its game and status.
The Mahindra Bolero 2.2L mHawk
The Mahindra Bolero is a workhorse of a vehicle and has gone on to sell in great numbers over the years. Mahindra has managed to keep it priced aggressively despite an increase in material cost and recently they went ahead and introduced a variant that straddles the lower strata of this segment with the Bolero Power+ (This was an engine swap as well, with the Bolero getting a variant of the 1.5 litre mill that does duty in the TUV3OO). Having said that, what I had in mind was a higher variant that slots in just a shade below that where the Scorpio begins its innings. Mahindra should give the Bolero the 2.2 mHawk engine that makes 120 PS, make it a 5-seater and kit out the interiors a bit to add that extra appeal. It goes without saying that this model should also have 4×4 as standard. It would be one of the best offroaders to go for!
The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza 1.6 DDiS
Another Maruti Suzuki product that we would like to see with a little more juice under its hood is the Vitara Brezza. While the current one is sold through Maruti Suzuki dealerships, the Vitara Brezza with a larger diesel heart, namely the 1.6 DDiS, could be offered through NEXA showrooms across the country. The 1.6 DDiS is a gem of an engine and the way it powers up has been experienced in the S-Cross by many. If the Brezza got this engine, it would make it the hottest compact SUV in the market and that isn’t a bad title to have!
Volkswagen Vento 2.0 TDI
The Volkswagen Vento is a nice sedan that has a sporty appeal. The 1.5 litre diesel mill combined with a 7-speed DSG gearbox does allow for a good drive experience; however to up the game further why can’t we get a Vento fitted with the same 2.0 litre TDI straight out of the Jetta. Shoehorning that engine in might take some doing and of course there are other modifications to consider as well, however, on the face of it, such a model would usher in a whole new dimension to the midsize sedan segment.
The Mahindra Thar 2.0L mHawk
An all new Mahindra Thar is in the works and should be out in a couple of years (at least that is what a little bird once came and told us). Considering the fact that it is still under development, it might be a good idea for Mahindra to consider a more powerful engine to go under the hood. Thanks to the ban on sales of diesel vehicles with engines larger than 2.0 litres in cubic capacity in Delhi last year Mahindra ended up making a 1999cc variant of its mHawk engine for the Scorpio and XUV5OO. Now that the ban has been lifted, Mahindra ought to plonk this engine in the new Thar and while we are on that note, they could also explore our other idea of offering the Thar XL as well.
The Honda Jazz 1.5 VTEC
Honda has been struggling in India due to the fact that they are trying to make it big in a segment that is dominated by manufacturers such as Hyundai and Maruti Suzuki. In October last year Tata Motors overtook them to become the fourth largest car manufacturer in the country and their numbers have been sliding ever since. What Honda Cars India has is a bad case of not knowing who they are anymore. For me, Honda has always been a company that delivers on innovation, convenience and premiumness. They have a sporty side to them as well, however none of their recent launches have promised such aspirations. By giving the Honda Jazz the 1.5 litre iVTEC engine out of the City, they could just see things change and drive in a whole new era of fun to drive vehicles that are affordable yet have that premium sporty appeal. At this point in time, it just might be worth the effort!
The Tata Tiago Quadrajet 90 PS
This one is a no brainer! The Tiago from Tata Motors is a brilliant small car that is quite exciting to drive. By offering it the 1.3 litre Quadrajet engine that is tuned to deliver 90 PS of power, Tata Motors could in fact have one of the hottest hatches on their hands. What’s more? Even if they go with the larger engine, the Tiago still conforms to the small car ruling as it will have a diesel engine that is less than 1500cc plus it already fits the bill of being shorter than 4000mm in length. I can see this model of the Tiago really doing brisk business in the country.
The Nissan Sunny 110PS XV D
I have always been a fan of the Nissan Sunny. It comes across as a practical offering that does everything just right. What it lacks is a bit of oomph value and that is where an engine swap could make a world of a difference for the Sunny. On a technical level I feel that this might be the easiest engine swap to consider on this list, because it really isn’t a complete swap. The Sunny already comes with a 1.5 litre diesel engine that pumps out 86 PS of power. The same engine in a different state of tune already exists in the form of the 1.5 dCi engine that pumps out 110 PS of power and does duty in the Terrano. Give the Nissan Sunny this version of the engine and it will be a sedan to die for. After all, Nissan is a brand known for some crazy performance cars and it wouldn’t hurt to offer a bit of performance way down the order as well.
Toyota Etios Liva 1.5 TRD
Toyota hasn’t seen much success with the Etios Liva. Designed to be the hatchback that could take on one of the most demanding segments in India, the Liva has just had a tough time competing. Maybe it is time for Toyota to rethink their strategy here and go in for something a little more exciting. Forget the competition and target emotion and excitement instead. Give the Etios Liva the petrol engine out of its larger sedan sibling, namely the Etios. The 90 PS, 1.5 litre 4 cylinder unit would give the Liva the much needed performance factor. Let the guys at Toyota Racing Development (TRD) have a go at this version and sort it out in order to have a product that has a very high connect with enthusiasts.
The Hyundai Elite i20 1.6 CRDi
The last car on my list is the Hyundai Elite i20. I love the way this car looks and it is an able performer as well. The 1.4 litre diesel mill is quite powerful and does make driving the Elite i20 a lot of fun, however to mix things up a bit and go a little crazy, wouldn’t it be nice if Hyundai offered a variant of the Elite i20 with the 1.6 litre CRDi that does duty in the Verna and Elantra? 126 PS of power on tap out of a hatch could really shake things up in the market.
Why Fiat India doesn’t feature on this list
While I did leave Fiat India out of this list, it was for a very good reason, for they are already doing what I’m talking about! They have been sticking the Abarth engine in their models. You already have the Punto Abarth and the Avventura powered by Abarth. Who knows, maybe a Linea with the Abarth engine is next! The 1369cc 16 valve T-Jet petrol engine is what enthusiasts drool over for it offers a solid 145 bhp. These cars are a blast to drive and we are big fans of the Scorpion badge!
On a parting note, I would like to state that these are just cars that we at MotorScribes dreamt up (except for Fiat’s Abarth variants of course). If any of them ever debut, just remember you read about them here first! Jokes apart, such products do have a lot of value in helping build a brand and it would be great if manufacturers actually considered making these. Costs have to be considered, but such products that straddle segments and have a high emotional connect can work out to be game changers.