DT Indian Car of the Year: Vote for your favourite entry-level hatchback
I believe this to be the busiest segment for India - entry-level hatchbacks. Where the majority of our lower to middle-class population operates. The term value-for-money holds great importance for this segment. Considering our second highest world population and just a handful of mass manufacturers, the fight for the largest share of the market pie really gets intense here.
Without much further ado, let me introduce you to our contenders. It remains a mix of newly launched cars along with facelifted models with the latter constituting the majority of it for 2019. With a price bracket starting from…….well, nought and going all the way up to INR 5 lakhs, here are your contenders -
Maruti Suzuki S-Presso
Prices: INR 3.69 lakhs to INR 4.91 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi)
Not a very appealing name for a car in a tea-loving nation, but the concept version of the S-Presso certainly had everyone hooked to it. That hype took a bit of an anti-climax turn when Maruti released the production-spec of it which to our annoyance looked woeful. Even though the hatchback possesses an SUV akin ground clearance of 180mm, the same can’t be said about the standard equipment provided. However, kudos to Maruti for attempting an all-new interior layout which seems identical to Minis. Powering the S-Presso is the same 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder petrol unit seen on the AltoK10 and the WagonR, putting out 67hp/90Nm. You can mate that engine to a 5-speed manual or a 5-speed AMT gearbox.
Maruti Suzuki WagonR
Prices: INR 4.19 lakhs to 5.69 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi)
Like Japan, India also has a problem of space. Hence, offering a Kei car as a proposition shouldn’t have seemed like a bad idea. And it wasn’t. The WagonR, in its third-generation in India, has grown in size and visual appeal. The tall-boy car is now wider and houses more space between its front and rear wheels. Powering this family-favourite car is a new 1.2 petrol motors, churning out 82bhp while offering a 21.5kmpl mileage. Maruti hasn’t shied away from installing a basic range of modern equipment like Android Auto, an AMT gearbox and steering mounted audio controls.
Prices: INR 2.83 lakh to INR 4.85 lakhs
It was Renault to identify the rising SUV trend early and come up with a similar-proportioned hatchback - the Kwid. Owing to low sales figures, the brand decided to provide it with a mid-life update mostly comprising of upgrades to the cosmetic and tech departments. While the split-headlight unit with LED DRLs is standard across the range, the 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment unit along with the digital instrument cluster is available only with the higher variants. Two engines are on offer - a 0.8-litre mill or a 1.0-litre engine. Coming standard is a 5-speed manual gearbox but the 1.0-litre unit can get mated to a 5-speed AMT as well.
Prices: INR 2.79 lakhs to INR 4.37 lakhs
It seems safety held paramount importance when Datsun was facelifting the Redi-Go. Unveiled in July, the updated Redi-Go now gets equipment like ABS and EBD, driver airbag, rear parking assist sensor, high-speed warning and seatbelt reminder as standard. The design, either inside or outside, didn’t receive any alterations. Same goes for the motor. Resembling the Kwid, the Redi-Go also has a 0.8-litre engine powering the lower variants and a 1.0-litre petrol unit churning out 68hp/91Nm while delivering an impressive 22.5kmpl.
Maruti Suzuki Alto
Price: INR 2.94 lakhs to INR 3.72 lakhs
It appears Maruti wants to cement a position - the Alto as India’s best-selling car. Updated in April, the Indian manufacturer pulled out a few tricks up its sleeves. Starting by giving the Alto a much-needed facelift to the front-end design. New headlights, grille and bumpers sum for a refreshed face. The interiors now get the dual-tone treatment along with a new design for the central AC vents. Bluetooth connectivity is further added to enhance its appeal. More importantly, equipment like a driver-side airbag, anti-lock braking system (ABS) with electronic brakeforce distribution (EBD), reverse parking sensors and speed alert now comes standard with no changes on the mechanical front.