Five best mid-sized sedans in India under Rs 10 lakh

K Shivraj | Features | October 21, 2013
Five best mid-sized sedans in India under Rs 10 lakh

Sedans are ever popular in India, with bulk of the small car buyers aspiring to own one. They offer style, performance, space, luxury, and most off all demand more road presence than compact hatchbacks. Considering this, mid-size sedans are great value for money packages that cater to both, buyers looking for performance as well as luxury. Here's our list of the five best mid-sized sedans in India for less than Rs 10 lakh.

Hyundai Verna

The Hyundai Verna is an aggressively styled car that brings a good deal of freshness to the mid-sized sedan category in India. The coupe-like styling, a part of Hyundai's 'Fluidic' design language doesn't only add to he style quotient, but also makes for a roomier cabin. Delving deeper, the new platform is not very different from that of the earlier model, though the car does gain in terms of dimensions.

On the inside, the new Verna boasts of a better build quality over the earlier model and also more premium fabrics. The design of the interiors may not be as evolutionary as the exteriors to look at, but do provide enough room to seat five people in comfort. Being a Hyundai, the equipment list is vast and the storage space at the rear is keeping with segment standards.

The car comes with four engine options with power outputs ranging from 90 PS to 128 PS in both diesel and petrol variants. Choosing either one of the 1.6-litre (petrol or diesel) engines, the car could be had with a 4-speed automatic gearbox that further enhances the ease of driving the car. However, the undisputed king of performance is the 1.6-litre diesel engine, producing 128.5 PS of power, while still offering great mileage and the added benefit of running on the cheaper diesel fuel.

The road manners of the new Verna aren't very much different from the car it replaces. Straight line stability is good and the steering offers a good amount of assistance. The ride quality is good over a variety of surfaces, however harsh surfaces do manage to disturb it. The Verna isn't the best handling car in the segment, but it is the most attractive looking car fetching it the title of the best looking mid sized sedan. It also is a strong performer, spacious, well equipped and retains its market value rather well over time.

Honda City

The most iconic mid-sized sedan in the country, the third generation of the Honda City appears sleeker and more revolutionary than its predecessors. The cab forward stance of the earlier model has been ditched, giving the car a sporty appearance which is also very well proportioned.

Despite getting a more sporty exterior, Honda have managed to generate more space on the inside of the new City. This has been done by increasing the wheelbase of the car along with several other changes. The interiors are well put together with comfortable seats, however the car lacks some of the equipment offered by competitors. The car also scores high in the area of safety, and even offers a large boot.

Powering the third generation of the car is a 1.5-litre i-VTEC petrol engine that produces 118 PS of power. The sophisticated power plant drives the front wheels through a 5-speed automatic or manual gearbox which have very well thought off gear ratios. The engine is refined, developing its power in the higher rev range, a signature of the VTEC engines. The car feels at home in the city as well as on the highway. The auto-box makes driving in the city much easier, even if it is a compromise on the fuel efficiency.

The car does exhibit a good balance between ride and handling, courtesy a stiffer monocoque chassis, however it isn't the best handling car in the segment. The steering does weigh up well with speed, and braking is good despite the car being equipped with drum brakes at the rear. The Honda City is a refined and well put together car, but it's the performance of that i-VTEC engine that earns the City the title of best performance (petrol) car in the mid-sized sedan segment. What makes the City an even more attractive package is the way it holds on to its value even after several years of use, making it a fun as well as smart car to own.

Volkswagen Vento

A typical understated Volkswagen design, the Vento may look like a shrunken Jetta, but it does lend the car a whiff of that premium appearance. Based on the same platform as the Polo, the car is a result of some pain staking work done by Volkswagen to offer a three-box design that Indians have come to love so dearly.

If not the most attractive looking car in the pack (that title rests with the Verna), the Vento does excel in the build quality department. On the inside, the attention to details and clever features are complemented by seats that are overtly comfortable. Despite being based on the Polo platform, the Vento has a wider rear track and a longer wheelbase, making it one of the few cars in the segment that can seat three people comfortably in the rear.

The car comes with two engine options - a 105bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine and a 1.6-litre diesel engine making the same amount of power. The petrol Vento can be had with a 5-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission, however, with either transmission performance is not exacting riveting, but it's not dull either. On the other hand, the 105bhp 1.6-litre diesel (with 5-speed manual transmission) is fun to drive, and riding on the massive turbo-wave the car feels quick.

On the handling side of things, the car is predictable and the steering is fairly accurate. Even the ride is pliant and though there is some amount of body roll, its not a deal breaker. A solid build quality and an exciting diesel are the highlights of the Vento, making it our choice for the best diesel mid-sized sedan. However, if the Vento diesel is a bit out of your budget, you might want to look at the Skoda Rapid, which is very much the same car under the skin.

Read our road test report of the Volkswagen Vento here >>

Renault Scala

It may be a badge engineered Nissan Sunny, but the Scala from Renault does look more upmarket with its blacked-out diffuser mimicking bumpers, assertive headlamps, chrome grill surround and stylish alloy wheels. Despite sharing the same visual profile with the Sunny, the Scala does appear to be better proportioned and overall better looking.

One good trait that the Scala shares with its Nissan counterpart is the abundance of space, the rear legroom being among the best offered in the segment. The car can ferry five occupants in comfort, having supportive seats and a pretty large equipment list. Build quality of the interiors is good, the only complaint being that it is identical to the Sunny's. Premium touches are the highlight of the interior as is the case with the exterior of the Scala, however it isn't enough of a difference over the Sunny.

The Scala is powered by a 1.5-litre petrol or diesel engine, producing 99 PS and 85 PS respectively. Performance of the petrol is good, if not very exciting, while fuel efficiency is on par with its competitors. The CVT transmission equipped car is easy to drive in the city, but on the highway the rubber band effect makes itself felt, making accelerating quickly and overtaking a arduous task. Over the petrol, the diesel Scala is more driveable with a wide power band, but don't expect any VW Vento like thrills.

The car excels in the ride quality department, with only a few vibrations filtering into the cabin. Road noise does however makes its way into the cabin, suggesting that the Scala could do with more sound insulation at the wheel wells. The Scala is more expensive than its Nissan counterpart, but its also a more refined and luxurious package. In comparison with other cars in the segment, the Scala doesn't excel in one particular department but is more of an overall package which makes it the best all-rounder in the mid-sized sedan segment.

Read our road test report of the Renault Scala CVT here >>

Ford Fiesta

The Fiesta is a mid-sized sedan that emerged out of the Fiesta hatchback Ford sells in Europe and a few other markets. Keeping with the American company's 'Kinetic' design language, the Fiesta looks futuristic somewhere on the lines of the Hyundai Verna. However, its weak link is the design of the rear, which looks awkward and uninspiring, stealing away the sporty stance the coupe-like roof line that lends to it.

On the inside the car feels well put together and employes the use of good quality plastics, save for a few switches. The driving position is spot-on despite the cabin not being the most roomy in the segment. Rear legroom and headroom is lacking, and the space the boot offers is average. However fold down the split rear seats and you've got yourself a whole load of boot space.

The 1.5-litre petrol engine performs well, and mated to the 5-speed manual transmission the Fiesta is on par with what the Honda City offers. What really surprises is the performance of the variant with the 6-speed 'Powershift' auto transmission, making the car effortless to drive in the city and efficient too. The diesel Fiesta though achieving a good balance of performance and efficiency, isn't as quick or exciting as the Vento diesel which takes top trumps.

Apart from the automatic gearbox, the other weapon in the Fiesta's arsenal is an exceptionally rigid chassis making the car the most involving to drive in its segment. The cars straight line stability is worthy of praise, and even when tackling the twisties the car instills confidence, without ever sacrificing ride quality. The Ford Fiesta with its frugal 6-speed automatic transmission and legendary well set up chassis and suspension makes its our pick for the best automatic mid-sized sedan as well as the best handling car in the segment.

Read our road test report of the Ford Fiesta here >>

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