Five best hatchbacks in the sub-Rs 6 lakh segment in India

K Shivraj | Features | August 7, 2013
Five best hatchbacks in the sub-Rs 6 lakh segment in India

The number of small cars in India is huge. To choose from a large assortment of cars that are fiercely competing for a space that is not as big as made out to be, here are the five most exciting small cars (read hatchbacks) under Rs 6 lakhs. They are not exactly premium buys in their segment, neither are they budget buys. What they are instead, is a good combination of value for money, comfort, convenience, performance and efficiency.

Here's our list of the five best compact hatchbacks in the sub Rs 6 lakh category that are well equipped, stylish, fuel efficient and overall great value for money packages.

Hyundai i10

Take a close look at the specifications of the Santro, and that of the i10. The dimensions of both the small cars are near identical. Even the wheelbase. If this offers enough reason to believe that the i10 grew out of the Santro, actor Shahrukh Khan vehemently promoted, the i10 could well be a Santro with all the design and technological developments thrown in, that were invented and developed between the period the Santro surfaced, and the i10 was introduced.

A car that shaped the Indian operations of Hyundai's as its global small car hub, the i10 is stylish and elegant in appearance. It flaunts good build standards and is reliable. If the Santro's track record speaks of its reliability, there should be no doubt that the i10 is a very reliable small car, that grows over time to be liked and adored.

Comfortable and equipped with a good deal of features, the i10 is easy to drive. Powered by the 1.2-litre Kappa petrol engine, the car is peppy and quite efficient. Available with a choice of automatic transmission, the i10 is a small car that inspires confidence. Is backed by a well established service network of Hyundai. A bit on the costlier side, considering its price tag for a desirable trim level, the i10 offers peace of mind like few other small cars in its category could.

Chevrolet Beat

The aggressive, toy-like appearance of the Chevrolet Beat makes it stand out of the crowd of small cars. The aggressive, toy-like design theme is carried inside, presenting the Beat with a cabin that is different, and flaunts good build quality. Good ergonomics make the cabin of Beat a comfortable environment to be in. The way the doors of this small car shut offers some idea of how well built it is.

Lacking in storage space at the rear perhaps, the Beat is equipped with a good deal of features. Many of these also add to its status as a small car that offers good safety standards. What highlights the Beat is however the 1-litre three-cylinder diesel engine. The diesel variant is clearly the one that finds favour over the petrol variant. The reason: derived from the Fiat MultiJet diesel engine that is found on a host of cars in the Indian market, the three-cylinder offers good performance, and is very frugal.

Easy to drive like many cars in its category are, the Beat stands out because of its ability to be exceedingly frugal as a diesel small car, exhibit good build quality, and be offered at a competitive price. Wish the after sales support was as good as some of its competitors. If keen on a good resale value, the choice lies somewhere else.

Maruti WagonR

Good resale value is what the WagonR continues to guarantee its buyers. There's however more to the car than just a good resale value. Arriving in 1999, the WagonR along with the Santro introduced the Indian motoring public to a design concept called the 'tall boy'. Stressing on vertical elevation, the way Tokyo was developed as a city due to the lack of space to expand horizontally, the current WagonR stays true to the 'tall boy' design idiom. Only it has added a few millimeters to its wheelbase and the engine bay. The result is a 'tall boy' design that flaunts a cab-forward stance, is elegant to look at, and clearly more mature.

Inside, the WagonR offers far more space than most of its competitors can manage to offer. At least that is the perception one gets, once inside. The quality of build is good, the car keeping the connection with the model it has replaced, intact. A modern three-cylinder petrol engine has added to the car's capability. It now feels like a car that is actually bigger than it is. The same is the case with the performance. Achieving a nice balance between performance and efficiency, what strikes about the WagonR, apart from how spacious it is, is how refined it is.

Easy to drive in the city, the ample glass area offering good visibility, the WagonR also feels more stable and planted. Any sense of top-heaviness has been taken care of, the car feeling more mature in the way it carries itself. Perhaps the most friendly small car around, the WagonR is spacious, efficient and versatile. Especially worth mentioning is the CNG version. It is a 'value for money' package like no other car in its category. It assures among the lowest running costs in its category!

Honda Brio

Brio is roughly the same size as a Hyundai i10, or a Maruti WagonR. Smaller in size than Grande Punto, or the Ford Figo, Brio is a genuine small car from Honda with a good deal of local content. Quite unlike the Jazz that was priced higher, almost on par with entry-level sedans, the Brio is priced competitively. The price may still feel a shade on the higher side, what the Brio excels in, is packaging.

The seemingly sporty; even funky looking hatchback may appear highly compact outside. Inside it is far more roomier than one would expect it to be. Capable of seating four, the interior flaunts good build standards. With good features to boast of, including airbags, ABS and ESP, the light weight construction of the Brio makes it a sprightly performer. The 1.2-litre i-VTEC petrol engine offers good pepp.

Light and easy to drive, the ample glass area offering good visibility as well as an airy feel inside, the Brio is quite responsive too. The Honda engineered motor supplies a good chunk of its power at the higher end. A rev-happy unit, it has the small car putting out good performance. Even more worthy is the good balance between performance and fuel efficiency the car achieves. The Brio is quite fuel efficient too.

Available with the choice of auto transmission (almost as peppy as the manual transmission Brio, and efficient too), the car offers a supple ride. The suspension leaning towards ride comfort rather than sporty handling. Not an exceedingly sporty car to drive, the Brio makes a small car that stands out with its distinctive, even funky appearance. It is roomier than expected, and offers a nice balance of performance and fuel efficiency. What has the Brio standing out, is how well packaged it is, and how light and easy it is, to drive. Those looking for good storage space will however have to look at other cars in the segment. Perhaps the only disappointment the Brio metes out.

Tata Indica eV2

Perhaps the most familiar car as far as the Indian motoring landscape is concerned, the Indica, in its current avatar (called as Indica eV2), looks much like the 'original' Indica looked. A slight improvement in the fit and finish standards of the car may be evident, among the bets in business is the paint quality. Sporting new headlamps, new front bumper, triple-step chrome-tipped grille, and an all-new sporty rear spoiler with integrated stop lamp, the Indica eV2 is clearly not the most attractive looking car in its category.

It is however compact outside despite its slightly bulbous styling, and very spacious inside. The spacious in its category in fact. Offering more space than hatchbacks that cost more, there's a somewhat hallow feel to the car's cabin. The hard-to-touch plastic bits not very convincing in terms of build quality. Solid build does not come to this car, the dual-tone interior, the reason for some freshness. Also, the instruments, and the four-spoke steering wheel. The silver metallic insert on the centre console may not be liked by all.

Ergonomically wanting in a way where the driving position could be more car-like, the Indica eV2, with its high-set dashboard may make it a bit tough for short drivers in terms of visibility just ahead of the car. Offering decent storage space at the rear, the list of features include an engine immobiliser, power windows, and a 60: 40 split foldable rear seat. The top-spec version gets a premium wood finish centre console and features like power windows, keyless entry, and Bluetooth enabled music system. Airbags and ESP are not a part of the list. Power comes from a 70PS, 1.4-litre common-rail diesel engine, or a 50PS, 1.5-litre naturally aspirated (BSIII) diesel engine.

The naturally aspirated diesel engine makes the car feel underpowered. It manages city commute without much difficulty. On the highway, it struggles to gather enough steam to overtake smartly. To keep the engine in the power band, a good deal of gear shifting is called for. Efficiency is not very pleasing either. The 1.4-litre engine, in comparison offers a more desirable mix of performance and fuel efficiency. The BSIV emission compliant engine offers the car with a good ability to accelerate sprightly, respond well to inputs, and perform well under a host of situations. Again, refinement is not the forte of this car.

Ride over a variety of surfaces is pliant, handling, strictly below average. So, what the Indica eV2 offers is a car that is terrific value for money in a category of hatchbacks that costs under Rs 6 lakhs. To sum it up, the Indica eV2 is the most spacious in its category, its familiarity making it easy to own as well as operate.

 
 
 
 
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