The Omni is the car that broke all boundaries in the Indian automotive market. It was perhaps the very first utility vehicle in the country and it pioneered a new segment in the industry. Its history goes way back to 1985 and it was and still is one of the most versatile cars in the country.
There is a 5-seater, an 8-seater, as well as a cargo and ambulance variant, which make this car so special. Its design has not changed over the years and it still serves as a people carrier throughout the many different lands of India.
The Omni design has changed very little since it was first created. It still maintains its boxy shape that makes it very practical in creating as much space as possible. Nothing is fancy and the Omni gets straight to the point of being exactly what it was meant to be, a multi-purpose van. It’s got two sliding doors for easy access and it’s got large windows and it’s also got a decent ground clearance of 165mm.
As we mentioned the Omni is a no nonsense vehicle and is built for a single purpose, and that is to be a people carrier that is reliable and strong. The interiors have nothing special except a very orthodox dashboard and steering wheel. The driver and passenger seats are far from comfortable, but the rear passengers get plenty of leg room, more than any full size sedan can offer. Even in the 8-seater there is ample room for all occupants. That is quite fantastic considering the car is well under 4 metres in length.
The engine featured in the Omni is the same one found in the Alto 800. It uses the tiny 796cc 3-cylinder petrol engine that can produce only 33bhp and 57Nm of torque. That may not be enough power but it certainly gets the job done. The engine is mated to a 4-speed manual gearbox that works effectively. And while it may not be the best engine/transmission configuration the Omni is a tough little car that performs well even under stress.
The Omni is probably one of the most uncomfortable cars to drive, but if you are not the driver you are spared. The suspension setup is not very good and the car is very bumpy and there are lots of rattles and shakes from the dashboard. The car is also not very easy to handle as there is no power steering. The pick-up and acceleration is nothing short of bad, but the Omni still manages to reach a top speed of about 90kmph even when it is full. The car is very unstable around short corners especially at high speeds. The brakes work but not as much as we would like them to.
The Omni gives a very average fuel economy of 14kmpl, which some might even consider bad considering the tiny engine which it has. There is also an LPG version which provides better fuel economy.
There are no special features in the Omni, it is a basic car built to move from point A to point B, that is all.
There are no new age safety features in the Omni.
The overall quality of the Omni is not good at all. All the materials used are cheap and you can hear every component rattle. Somehow the car manages to stay in one piece even if it is put through a beating on tough Indian road conditions. The Omni is one car that is found in every possible terrain in India, which means that despite its poor quality it is still a reliable people and cargo carrier.
The Omni is perhaps the cheapest car in the Indian market, and it is definitely the cheapest MUV in the market. It doesn’t boast of anything special except its purpose and its tendency to take a beating and survive, it is definitely worth the price tag it bears.
The Omni is a time tested machine; it works very well, which is why it is still around in the same design and with little to no changes at all. It comes with the same engine, the same transmission, the same seating arrangement and the same design, which says a lot for a car that has been around for three decades. It is definitely the most practical people carrier that comes with the cheapest quality available in the market. If you can’t afford something better then you will be more than happy with the Omni.