DT Indian Car of the Year: Vote for your favourite premium hatchback
If the value-for-money factor holds great importance, the term seems to get personified in the premium hatchback category. Since the past couple of years, an outrageous amount of tech has entered this segment to lure the most amount of public into the brands’ limited showrooms.
And if more tech didn’t work, some automakers even resorted to launching mild performance variants of the regular hatch. Under the premium hatchback segment, the customer undoubtedly seems to be king. So, we shall let the kings and queens perform their duties by looking upon this year’s contenders -
Price: INR 7.22 lakhs to INR 8.90 lakhs
I know, this isn’t exactly a new car. Termed as ‘Cross-Badging’ in automotive terms, Toyota simply borrowed the Baleno from Maruti, replaced all the respective badges and voila! Toyota has a premium hatchback. Apart from the subtle design tweaks to the front grille, installation of respective infotainment units and the buying and after-sales experience, nothing can distinguish the Baleno from Glanza. Unlike the Baleno, the Glanza doesn’t offer a diesel powertrain. However, the Glanza makes up for it by providing customers with Toyota’s superior 3 year/1 lakh km warranty and free three-year road-side assistance.
Hyundai Grand i10 Nios
Price: INR 4.99 lakhs to INR 7.99 lakhs
Revealed in August, the Grand i10 Nios sits in between the Grandi10 and the Elite i20. Now Nios means more and Hyundai took the addition of the suffix a bit too seriously. Starting with an all-new face which gets Elantra-akin headlights with signature LED DRLs on the grille. The interior comes in an all-new yet unusually cool white-grey colour scheme with a similar dashboard layout as seen on the Hyundai Venue. A floating infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity dominates the centre console while propeller-like AC vents up the cool quotient. In terms of features, the mid-spec trim level provides enough to put the rival’s top-spec trims to shame. For power, the i10 Nios gets the usual 1.2-litre petrol and diesel units from Hyundai’s stable which carries a claimed mileage figure of 20+kmpl.
Price: INR 5.15 lakhs to INR 8.09 lakhs
The Figo’s facelift can be followed by other carmakers as well. It featured cosmetic updates, both inside and outside, upgrades to the existing tech and most importantly, introduction of new powertrains. While the cosmetic enhancements make it resemble the Aspire, the dashboard layout has been borrowed from the Freestyle. It now comes with loaded with the latest tech including the likes of auto headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, auto AC and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth and sat-nav. Powering this hatchback is Ford’s new 96hp 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder unit borrowed from the Freestyle and the Ecosport’s 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder diesel unit putting out 123hp.
Maruti Suzuki Baleno
Price: INR 5.46 lakhs to INR 8.77 lakhs
In a bid to differentiate its cross-badged product, it appears that Maruti sent its hatchback to the parlour. And in January, the refreshed Baleno was launched. Majority of the changes revolves around offering more tech while making this donor car distinctive. Stuff like new alloy wheels, black-blue themed interior, updated infotainment unit, projector headlamps and LED DRLs were added to enhance the appeal of the Baleno. Parking Sensors were kept as standard across the range. And like regular facelifts, no mechanical changes were made.
Price: INR 5.82 lakhs to INR 9.88 lakhs
Even though it’s been almost a decade since the Polo came to India, Volkswagen is still somehow able to sell it. The recent facelift it received in September might be the last one before the new sixth-gen Polo arrives on our shores. Hence, for the possible final hurrah, the company kept changes to the minimal yet particular iconic touches. Starting with the front grille which now comes with a honeycomb pattern and a new air dam, seen in the legendary GTI iteration. Infusion of more LEDs into the tail lamps provide it with a fresh look. And that’s about it. Everything, including the indicator stalk, engine and even the tailpipe remains the same.
Tata Tiago JTP
Price: INR 6.69 lakhs
Tata tried a hand in pleasing the enthusiasts by launching the JTP version in October last year. And in August this year, they released a mild update for it as well. The performance-oriented hatch now sees the much-needed inclusion of a larger 7-inch infotainment screen which now gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. The wing mirrors can now be adjusted electronically, and the climate control is automatic. A couple of warning bongs for passenger seat-belt and excessive high-speeding has been introduced as well. Tata hasn’t given any tweaks to the motor, and the Tiago JTP runs on the same 114hp 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.
Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS
Price: INR 8.76 Lakh
Another performance-oriented hatchback, another no-mechanical facelift. That’s sad. But what’s not so sad is the cosmetic upgrades Maruti provided the Baleno RS with. Facelifted in January, the warm hatch, as some call it, received a racier looking front end. Starting with the honeycomb mesh treatment to the front grille followed by a bigger central air dam along with larger fog lamp housings. More changes include a LED headlamp cluster instead of the bi-xenon ones before, a bigger 7-inch infotainment system and the introduction of the donor car’s new 16-inch alloy wheels. Rest of the vehicle remains unchanged. Doing power duties is a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine putting out 102hp and 150Nm of torques.