Hyundai India's latest series of advertisements for its small hatchback Santro Xing (Atos) have caused a controversy.

The advertisements claim that the Santro Xing has been certified to carry five passengers, unlike its rivals which can only carry four.

While the advertisements do not name any rivals for the Santro Xing, the obvious reference is to the popular Maruti (Suzuki) Wagon R and Alto models. The comparison in the advertising arises from the fact that while the Santro Xing has seat belt points for five adults (i.e. three in the rear) the Wagon R and Alto have mounting points for only four passenger belts.

Hyundai Motors has quoted Automotive Research Authority of India (ARAI) reports and certification as the basis of its claims. ARAI is the vehicle certifying authority in India.

Maruti, for its part, has not yet responded to the advertising.

In a related move, ARAI asked Hyundai to clarify details of the rivals cited in the advertising. Hyundai's response was that the advertising is not to malign any of its rivals and is just to educate customers on safety.

It has now removed the direct reference to ARAI from its advertising.

Deepesh Rathore / Tilak Swarup