Judging by the adornment on our cars, it’s clear that we Indians love our four-wheeled companions. A look at the design trends that tickle the fancy of car buyers and makers
‘Diamond-cut’ alloys are family jewels
It’s debatable who did it first, but one thing’s for sure: ‘diamond-cut’ alloys are going to be around for a while. Unlike traditional alloy wheels, this new, trendy form of wheel uses a two-tone design, with a facet machined onto each metal ‘spoke’ in the wheel — thus the term ‘diamond-cut’. Pratap Bose, Head of Design for Tata Motors, explains, “Remember the bright spokes on the wheels of the Jaguar E Type? Diamond-cut is nothing but an expression of that aesthetic.” For each car that rolls off the assembly line, you need a minimum of four alloy wheels. With lakhs of cars, that’s many lakhs of wheels, all of which must be manufactured and delivered in time. “The diamond-cut trend reappears with a new technical capability. Makers can create this now in large numbers. While we can’t do spokes any more, you can, in a sense, recreate that memory.”
Luxury lights on regular cars say we’ve arrived
We’ve all seen them — the unmistakable tail lamps on a BMW or an Audi. But when you finally come alongside for a better look, it’s a Chevrolet or a Honda. We’ve often heard of Indian car buyers described as ‘value conscious’, and evidently, there’s a lot of value attached to making your car look like it’s four times as expensive.
Thanks and regards for the stickers, slogans
If the decals, flourishes and prose splashed across the rear windscreens of our cars are to be believed, we are a people deeply grateful to our parents, brothers, gurus, presiding deities and saints. Just look at all the ‘Dad’s Gift’, or ‘Ai Vadil cha Aashirwaad’ (Blessings of the mother and father, in Marathi) stickers on our trucks, cabs, even private cars! Of note are the rickshaws across the country that demonstrate a unique level of swag. Couplets announcing the abilities and superiority of the driver, his dedication to a film star are common (Salman Khan seems to enjoy particular reverence as ‘bhai’). There’s a business model for an ironic sticker printing business right here.
For a diverse and religious country such as ours, it’s only natural that our means of transportation (often means of sustenance) should be covered by all manner of insurance — monetary and divine. It’s the rule rather than the exception to see some form of idol or tiny temple taking prime place on Indian car dashboards — very often, it is Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. Now, if only the combined force of the thousands of ‘Vignahartas’ (Remover of Obstacles) on our dashboards could speed up road works, metro construction and repair.
Take back the Piano Black
Piano black is a surface treatment originally seen on, well, pianos. A deep, glossy black colour, piano black imparts a certain old-world class. If it’s done right. Unfortunately, we have several examples of Indian vehicles trying to use piano black in small, economy-focused hatchbacks, and missing the point. Piano black is best left to luxury manufacturers. If you spot piano black finish in a moderately affordable car, chances are it’s a thin layer of black, lacking the depth and sheen expected. In either case, piano black attracts and proudly shows off every speck of dust or fingerprint that inadvertently ends up on the surface, so be ready to clean often.
Pass the champagne gold
For many tourists, the lasting impression of India is its overwhelming of the senses. Why, then, do carmakers tend to push the tired (timeless?) Champagne Gold with every new model that arrives? Asks Bertrand DSouza, Adventure travel entrepreneur and former Editor of Overdrive Magazine, “Why not explore colour? We are a colourful country, but our carmakers stick to traditional, safe colours. Even our car interiors are monotone, or at best two-tone jobs. That’s not how we decorate our homes; why our cars then?” Hear, hear. We hope recent exceptions to drab car colours become the norm.