The SUV invasion of Pakistan: How it started…how it’s going!

If you look on the roads right now, you will notice how many small crossover SUVs are there now; from Kia Sportage to MG to new Haval, and many more. They have become very popular in the last few years. But these smaller vehicles with their upright seating positions aren’t a new thing. If you go a couple of decades back, Dewan Motors at that time launched the earlier iteration of Kia Sportage. And like today, at that time as well, the Sportage became popular fairly quickly. But it was not just the Sportage. There was also Suzuki Vitara, and Toyota Rav4. And in some rare cases, you could even see the earlier model Honda HR-V. I still remember one of those getting CNG back in the day when CNG was all the rage.

TOYOTA RAV4 3 Doors specs
2002 Toyota Rav4
2002 Kia Sportage
2002 Kia Sportage

But with the demise of Dewan Motors, almost non-existent imports, lack of official support from other brands, and maybe the general lack of interest in small SUV form-factor, people slowly forgot about these cars. During that time, it was all about sedans like Corolla and Civic, and bigger full-size SUVs like Prados and Land Cruisers. But it all changed in 2015-16. 

Before we begin with our blog, I’d like to say that we will only be talking about vehicles that are technically called crossover SUVs. The word “crossover” is usually used here to describe these cars because they are something in between a proper big SUV and a sedan. There is a debate on the internet arguing of what constitutes a proper sports utility vehicle (SUV) and what are just posers with fancy stylings and no actual off-roading capabilities. But let’s leave this debate for the next blog, and just talk about these new crossover SUVs instead. 

Honda Vezel

Government had loosened the import restrictions and you could see various new cars popping up on the roads. And one of those new cars at that time was the Honda Vezel. People really got the taste of crossover SUVs with Vezel imports here in Pakistan. It was like a window had opened for suffocating consumers of the Pakistani car market. A vehicle that rides, handles and feels similar to a car, but has more space and arguably better seating position; it became an instant hit and opened a way for all these crossover SUVs you now see on our roads nowadays.

Vezel is powered by Honda’s L15 1500cc inline-4 engine which is equipped with Honda’s hybrid technology. The engine is mated to Honda’s infamous 7-speed dual clutch transmission. People who own or have owned Vezel, and Honda Fit as well since they both share the same engine and gearbox, know the cost of maintenance of this transmission. And if you were unlucky enough, and your dual clutch one day decided to go kaput, well it was a hefty repair to bring the car back on the road.

2021 Honda Vezel

But it will not be wrong to say that despite the teething problems Vezel had, this formfactor became so popular that almost every automaker after that has offered something to compete in the crossover SUV segment. 

Kia Sportage

Sportage really took the Pakistani SUV market by storm. People fell head over heels for this modern looking sporty crossover SUV. There was already a lot of love for Honda Vezel at the time and the fact Kia Pakistan broke Vezel’s hold on the market and surpassed whatever expectations people had about it, is commendable. Kia as well as Hyundai left a bitter taste in the mouths of Pakistani automotive consumers because of the failure of Dewan Motors in 2003-04 although Lucky Motors has nothing to do with Dewan or its affiliates. But still Kia performed well and in just 2 years it was able to sell 50000 units of Sportage in Pakistan. 

The new Kia Sportage comes with a robust 2000cc inline-4 petrol engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The car is available in 3 variants:

  • Kia Sportage Alpha – PKR 4,650,000
  • Kia Sportage FWD – PKR 5,150,000
  • Kia Sportage AWD – PKR 5,650,000

The Alpha is the cheaper and the AWD verison is the priciest one. The price point of Kia was one of the main factors that helped Kia sell more vehicles than someone like Honda Atlas as well as Corolla in some cases. People were of the opinion, why buy a sedan for 4 million when you can add a little more and get a significantly bigger vehicle like a Sportage.

Hyundai Tucson

With Kia in Pakistan, it was only a matter of time when Hyundai was going to be here as well considering both are sister companies. And it shows in their vehicles as well as since both the Sportage and Tucson are pretty much the same vehicles under different body shells. The chassis and the mechanicals are pretty much the same. Also, it must be noted that it is “Tucson” and not “Tuscon”. The car was named after the city of Tucson where Hyundai has a plant, in Arizona, USA. Also, it is pronounced “too-saan”. So anyway, like Sportage, Tucson also comes with the same configuration of 2000cc inline-4 petrol engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. 

Hyundai Tucson is available in following 2 variants:

  • Hyundai Tucson FWD A/T GLS Sport – PKR 5,179,000
  • Hyundai Tucson AWD A/T Ultimate – PKR 5,669,000

Hyundai comes with features like traction control, stability control, hill-start assist etc. 

It is also important to mention that both Hyundai and Kia didn’t have the smoothest of runs. Both had their fair share of teething problems, recalls, and controversies. Kia Lucky Motors had to recall approximately 14000 Kia Sportage vehicles to rectify a technical fault which resulted in fire in two Sportage cars. Similarly, Hyundai Nishat had to take similar steps and recalled 1600 cars due to concerns over a possible malfunction in the anti-lock braking system (ABS) module. 

DFSK Glory 580

The 3rd vehicle on the list is maybe the first full fledged Chinese SUV in the market; the DFSK Glory. Dongfeng Sokon (DFSK) is the second largest carmaker in China. In Pakistan, DFSK China is working with Regal Automobiles Industries Limited to sell their vehicles. 

One of the biggest draws of DFSK is its price point; it is considerably cheaper than the competition. And secondly, it is a 7-seater vehicle. Rest of the cars on the list are all 5-seaters. Unlike the Koreans, Chinese are fans of 1.5L turbo engines. You will notice even the rest of the Chinese SUVs on the list come with 1500cc engines, turbo or otherwise. DFSK Glory 580 comes with three engine options; a 1500cc naturally aspirated engine, 1500cc turbocharged engine, and a 1800cc naturally aspirated engine. All engines are inline-4 and petrol-powered. Most of the variants come with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) but there is one variant that is offered with a 1500cc naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine that comes mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Glory is available in following variants:

PKR 8,499,000

  • Glory 580 1.5 Manual 6-Speed – PKR 4,049,000
  • Glory 580 1.5 Turbo CVT – PKR 4,539,000
  • Glory 580 1.8 CVT – PKR 4,689,000
  • Glory 580 Pro 1.5 Turbo CVT – PKR 4,920,000

Glory 580 is only available with a front-wheel drive configuration.

DFSK Glory Pro

Like Sportage and Tucson, Glory owners have voiced their concerns regarding some of the issues related to Regal Motors as well as some quality issues with the car itself. The customer services by the DFSK dealerships have been questioned multiple times where customers have complained due to lack of support or parts availability.

MG

MG is an interesting case here. MG is owned and run by Chinese automaker SAIC Motor. MG has a rich automotive history considering its British ancestry but it is a Chinese brand now. Although SAIC still has its MG offices in the UK, it is fair to that its full ownership is Chinese. And considering how sceptical we are of Chinese products, MG Pakistan very cleverly masked their car’s whole Chinese origin and pounded its British heritage in the potential consumers’ minds, making them think they are buying a British car.

One of the feathers in MG’s cap is the fact that they are first to launch a full electric vehicle in Pakistan, other than Audi e-tron of course which is, let’s be honest, super expensive compared to MG. MG crossovers SUVs that you can book and buy in Pakistan are:

  • MG ZS Petrol – PKR 4,399,000 
  • MG ZS Electric – PKR 6,250,000
  • MG HS Petrol – PKR 6,599,000 
  • MG HS PHEV – PKR 8,499,000
MG HS PHEV

The non-EV MG vehicles come with the 1500cc turbocharged and naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engines. The MG HS has a 7-speed dual clutch transmission whereas the MG ZS comes with a 4-speed automatic transmission. Like Glory 580, MG also only comes with front-wheel drive configuration.

Proton X70

Proton Pakistan is a joint venture between Al-Haj Pakistan and Proton Malaysia under which Proton Saga sedan and Proton X70 crossover SUV is being offered. Saga is a direct competitor of Honda City, Toyota Yaris and Changan Alsvin. Whereas the X70 competes with all over similar sized crossover SUVs in the market.

Initially, like MG, Proton was only being offered as a CBU (completely built unit); meaning those units were assembled in Malaysia and later imported to Pakistan for sale. Arguably those units have better built quality due to better quality control and are often preferred to locally assembled units. But Al-Haj Proton has activated its local assembly plant in Pakistan and now these cars are being assembled here, which is a good thing for Pakistan’s economy, of course. 

Proton is being offered in just two variants. 

  • Proton X70 Executive AWD – PKR 4,590,000 
  • Proton X70 Premium FWD – PKR 4,890,000 

Unlike Sportage or Tucson, here the cheaper model is an AWD and the FWD model is the expensive of the two. Premium FWD is priced at PKR 4,890,000 whereas the Executive AWD is priced at PKR 4,590,000.

And also unlike any other crossover SUV in the market, the Proton X70 comes with a 3-cylinder engine. The engine is turbocharged and is mated to a 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Proton is closely associated with Volvo, via China’s Geely that owns Volvao as well as has 49.9% ownership of Proton. This 3-cylinder TGDi engine in X70 Proton is actually a popular and award-winning Volvo power plant. The engine won the China Automotive Industry Awards for Science and Technology in 2020. The engine makes 175bhp and 225 Nm of torque. The horsepower is class leading in Pakistan among the similar displacement engines.

Haval Jolion and H6

Yet another Chinese entry on the list, Haval is owned by Great Wall Motors China and is working with Sazgar Motors Pakistan to introduce and sell their cars in Pakistan. Haval has offered 2 crossover SUVs in the category here in Pakistan; the Jolion and H6, Jolion being the smaller of the two. Like MG and DFSK Glory, both Jolion and H6 also come with a 1.5 turbocharged 4-cylinder engine. 7-speed dual clutch transmission is standard. Both are front-wheel drive. 

Haval H6 is priced at PKR 6,849,000 whereas the Jolion is priced at PKR 6,020,000.

Honourable Mentions

  • Toyota Fortuner (Arguably the only actual SUV on the list)
  • Toyota Cross
  • Honda CR-V
  • BAIC BJ40 Plus

Upcoming crossover SUVs

  • Peugeot 2008, 3008, and 5008
  • Chery Tiggo 4 Pro, Tiggo 7 and Tiggo 8 Pro
  • Changan Oshan X7 Plus
2021 Peugeot 2008
2021 Peugeot 2008

Changan Oshan X7 Plus

So this is our list of most prominent SUVs currently being sold in Pakistan. Tell us which one is your favourite or which model are you looking forward to seeing in Pakistan in the coming days.

If you are interested in buying any of these vehicles, and want to sell your current vehicle, book an appointment with CarFirst now. CarFirst is the easiest and fastest way to buy or sell used cars in Pakistan. Book an appointment and sell your car in one visit through our various purchase centres across Pakistan.

*All prices were taken at the time of publishing of this blog.

Leave a Reply