As the automotive industry moves forward, we are witness to many new innovations in both engineering and design. Similarly, there are also many old icons of the road being retired. Gone is the ubiquitous air-cooled VW beetle. Reliable and rugged truck-based vehicles are also being replaced by unibody counterparts. Powerful V8 engines are getting substituted by ‘smart’ V6 variants. Joining this growing list of vanishing automobilia is the good old microvan, the Suzuki Omni.
Essentially based on the seventh-generation Suzuki Carry introduced in 1979, the Omni sold under different names in several countries. Among these was this Indian variant that came into the market in 1984. Its engine was an 800cc powerplant borrowed from the Maruti 800 hatchback. In April 2019, Suzuki announced the end of production of the Omni after a 35-year run. For those of you that require or desire a microvan, here are some reasons you should get an Omni while you can.
“Realizing your ambitions is easier if you have a partner to steer you towards the right path. The Maruti Suzuki Omni ensures just this, fast-tracking your success with its improved performance, bigger space and multiple seating options, and stronger safety features. With the Maruti Suzuki Omni to take you to your destination, you can always be assured of your success and happiness.”
Its demise from the production line comes with the onset of new government guidelines. Current safety and emission standards call for seatbelt reminders, a driver’s airbag, antilock brakes, rear parking sensors, and speed warning beeps. The inherent flat front design also negates the addition of mandatory crumple zones. These combined requirements dictate that the van cannot be built beyond October 2020, ending an illustrious production history. Suzuki sold approximately 16 million Omni vans in India and Pakistan since 1984. A good number of these vans typically ply the streets as ubiquitous eight-seater cabs or less commonly as ambulances.
To replace the reliable Omni, Maruti Suzuki (Suzuki’s Indian subsidiary) plans to push the seven-seater Eeco vans. The Eeco is derived from the tenth-generation Suzuki Carry from 1999. For the hardcore Omni fans, thankfully there is still some heritage of the reliable old microvan lurking in the Eeco’s bloodlines.