Small cars, big choice

Written by Roudra Bhattacharya | Updated: Feb 2 2014, 07:00am hrs
CarsHonda?s Amaze is a strong challenger. PTI
Entry hatchbacks

Hyundai Eon (0.8 petrol)

We like: Exterior and interior styling, good-quality materials used in the cabin, lots of cubbyholes for storage and the car is well-equipped too.

We dont: Mediocre engine, not very exciting to drive, doesnt like bad roads and lacks outright punch. Boot is a bit cramped.

Opinion: Very stylish, the Eon actually feels a class higher. It is a value-for-money proposition, now also comes in LPG fuel option.

Maruti Suzuki Celerio (1.0 petrol)

We like: K10 petrol engine punchy and very fuel-efficient, comes with an automatic gearbox that is very easy to drive. Spacious cabin.

We dont: Cabin looks fresh, but exterior design is still not attractive enough, rear section looks like the class-lower Alto 800.

Opinion: A probable winner for Maruti, has the space of the Zen Estilo and the driveability of the A-Star (the model it replaces).

Maruti Suzuki Alto (0.8 petrol, 1.0 petrol)

We like: Low price, good mileage, easy to maintain, seats four comfortably, offers basic features like AC and power steering. Top trim gets airbag.

We dont: Design is a bit dated and boot cramped. Power (800 cc) is on the lower side. Not too many safety features in entry-level models.

Opinion: First launched in 2000, it is the top-selling car brand for around a decade. The K10 engine is a better choice over the 0.8 petrol engine.

HYUNDAI i10 (1.1 petrol)

We like: Responsive engine, easy to drive in city, has a lot of equipment and there is good space in the cabin. The boot, too, is spacious.

We dont: Mediocre drive, especially on the highway. Doesnt have very good high-speed manners. Has started to show its age.

Opinion: A very competent small car, it is priced well, but, of late, competition has taken to its heels. Needs to reinvent itself.

MARUTI suzuki WagonR (1.0 petrol)

We like: Clever interior packaging means lots of space and innovative storage spaces. Has a sporty version, Stingray, with sharper exterior design and projector lamps.

We dont: Boxy looks, no automatic transmission option. Needs better build quality, one can find gaps between sheet metal body parts.

Opinion: Among the five top-selling cars for many years and a very popular model back home in Japan as well. Look out for the more premium Stingray version.

premium Hatchbacks

Grand i10 (1.2 petrol, 1.1 diesel)

We like: The diesel version is very fuel-efficient. The car looks smart, cabin quality is a class higher and steering feel is just right.

We dont: It remains relatively dull to drive, even the diesel engine lacks outright punch. Not a very happy car on the highway.

Opinion: Cabin gets a lot of equipment. It is a user-friendly car that is good value too. A winner for Hyundai; won Car of the Year award.

HYUNDAI i20 (1.2 petrol, 1.4 petrol, 1.4 diesel)

We like: Among the best-looking cars on Indian roads. Comes with a very spacious cabin and, overall, is a very refined product.

We dont: Lacklustre handling, like most Hyundais, isnt a happy highway performer. The engines have relatively poor initial response.

Opinion: Attractive inside and outside, it is what most small cars probably want to look like, although they may not want to drive like it.

Polo (1.2 petrol, 1.2 diesel, TSI petrol & TDI diesel)

We like: The most solidly-built car in its class, the Polo is the most comfortable too. The TSI and TDI engines are a dream to drive.

We dont: The 1.2 petrol and diesel motors have mediocre performance, rear legroom is not best in class. TSI and TDI look similar to regular Polo.

Opinion: A competent and sensible hatchback, but comes at a price. The Cross Polo looks quite good. Dual front airbags are now standard.

Honda Brio (1.2 petrol)

We like: Peppy smooth revving petrol engine and surprising interior space for such a small car. Good plastic quality inside and feels well-built.

We dont: Though utilitarian in design, interiors feel boring and spartan. No CD player either or a diesel engine option.

Opinion: Hondas smallest offspring will soon spawn a MPV and SUV version. A good buy with great fit and finish, and frugal in petrol consumption too. Wish it looked less gentle and more hardy.

Maruti Suzuki Swift (1.2 petrol, 1.3 diesel)

We like: Fun and balanced ride. Looks mean and ready to race. Improved build quality over previous generation and imaginative design that can see umpteen modifications.

We dont: Interior and boot space could be much better and is lower than peers. Needs an auto box and more premium features like LED lights, push button start, etc, to stay relevant.

Opinion: Top-selling premium and hatchback for several years and remains the best pick in the segment.

Entry Sedans

Mahindra Verito (1.5 diesel)

We like: Has a great ride quality, space and practicality. Close your eyes and the cabin will be the best place to be.

We dont: Still looks boxy, lacks upmarket feel and the cabin is not very insulated. Looks straight out from

the 1990s.

Opinion: Very practical, great value, but still not desirable. It is also fuel-efficient and wont require much maintenance either.

HYUNDAI Grand i10 sedan

We like: The much-awaited small sedan from Hyundai could be a game-changer for the company. It is expected to be priced competitively. To be launched on February 4, it will be based on the Grand i10, already a successful product.

We dont: Too early to say.

Maruti Suzuki Dzire (1.2 petrol, 1.3 diesel)

We like: Aggressive pricing, easy to maintain and overall better-quality levels than previous generation. Dashboard design and interiors the best among peers. Diesel is a lovely drive.

We dont: Odd design from the back. Backseat legroom may prove a bit tight, especially if you are buying it as a sedan.

Opinion: In its second generation, the Swift-based Dzire remains the top selling compact sedan. Good buy in the segment, but Hondas Amaze is a strong challenger.

Honda Amaze (1.2 petrol, 1.5 diesel)

We like: Smart exterior design for a compact sedan and the diesel is extremely fuel-efficient at 25.8 kmpl. Also, has good backseat legroom and the largest boot space among peers.

We dont: Like the Brio, the dashboard and interior design is a bit boring and plain. Car feels very light compared to Maruti Suzuki Dzire.

Opinion: The best value car in the segment that provides great fuel efficiency, and lots of space. Its a Honda, so you know its well-built.

Toyota Etios (1.5 petrol, 1.4 diesel)

We like: Drives very well and strong engine underlines Toyotas focus on reliability. Good space on the inside and also has a big boot.

We dont: Exterior design feels inspired from a decade ago, while the interior plastic quality feels very cheap. The speedometer on the middle of a dashboard doesnt click.

Opinion: Slightly bigger than Dzire and Amaze, and more expensive as well. The Amaze is a better option and so is the Dzire. The only thing good is the Toyota badge that stands for reliability of the mechanicals.