My respect for small cars has just gone through the roof. Completely unfairly, I have been inclined in the past to dismiss anything smaller than a Focus – with the exception of the BMW Mini – as a s**tbox, and I have to admit I’ve never quite understood why Steve Cropley, for example, is such a fan of them.
But now I do.Because I’ve just spent three weeks in Mumbai, and the obvious brilliance with which compact, cheap, frugal cars cater to the needs of the majority of Indian motorists was enough to make me completely readjust my whole attitude to the tiddlers that ply our roads.
While their car market is expanding rapidly as more and more Indians are able to afford to buy a car, for most of them the priorities when choosing a car are that it’s very fuel efficient, cheap to buy and maintain, has a spacious interior and rides well enough to cope with poor-quality roads.
But they’re not prepared to completely sacrifice style and creature comforts; they want the lot. And to a greater or lesser extent, all the cars that are built for that market – some of which we get in the UK – provide all of those things. Which makes them much more fit for purpose than many of the much bigger, premium products we seem to insist on in the UK.