Premium hatchbacks like Hyundai i20 and Tata Altroz stand out for their stellar looks.
Maruti Baleno makes sense as a practical buy with decent all-around performance.
Honda Jazz has been updated for a more contemporary feel while Volkswagen Polo remains a stellar drive option.
If sedans are the dying monarchs and SUVs are princes waiting to grab the crown, premium hatchbacks are something like able generals capable of marshaling a large section of prospective car buyers without looking at trying too hard. Despite the massive traction - one way or the other - in other segments, premium hatchbacks have maintained their position of strength in the country for quite some time now and offer a whole lot to buyers - from performance to practicality, from cabin comfort to features galore.
Mostly more affordable than compact SUVs, premium hatchbacks are a great option as a daily commute ride as well as being reliable highway war horses. Or at least most of them are.
Here's a look at some of the premium hatchbacks available in the Indian market and what they bring to the car segment overall:
Hyundai i20 2020:
The i20 has been a formidable player in its segment for several years and the third-generation of the car takes its strengths and builds upon it.
It looks more contemporary from every angle than ever before with Hyundai designers giving the car a chic touch. Inside the cabin, there's more space than in the Elite i20 while - no surprises, is packed to the absolute brim with features.
While Hyundai claims that the crash worthiness of the new car has increased, the i20 2020 now comes with multiple petrol, turbo petrol and diesel engine options as well as half-a-mile-long list of transmission choices.
On the flipside though, it is a premium hatchback with a premium price tag as well.
Altroz made quite a bang when it was launched earlier this year, underlining that Tata Motors has come a long way since the days of the Indica.
The Altroz is one of the newest products in the market and therefore, benefits from a stylish visual profile as well as a decently packed cabin. It also has a 1.2 litre Revotron petrol and a 1.5-litre turbocharged Revotorq diesel engine under the hood.
What it lacks is a turbo engine option but Tata is looking at filling the gap to mount a challenge to the new i20.
Altroz is also relatively more affordable than the new i20 which is a major ace up its sleeve.
Maruti Suzuki Baleno:
When it comes to a confluence of between reliability and a modern hatchback, it may not get any better than the Baleno. That it is offered from the Nexa chain also goes to show that here is a hatchback that really aspires to be a premium option for buyers.
The Baleno may be a common sight on Indian roads and a put off for those looking at driving something new. But the fact that Baleno has found a large number of takers also shows just how good this product really is.
Is it as loaded with features as the new i20? No. Does it have the new-ness of an Altroz? No. But the Baleno more than makes up for it by continuing to look appealing and is a car that is backed by Maruti's massive post-sales network, assurance of a high mileage and great value in the second-hand car market.
Baleno comes with a 1.2L VVT petrol and 1.2L Dualjet Dual VVT petrol Engine. It also has a CVT option ready for anyone interested.
Jazz is perhaps the most practical car in this list when it comes to cabin comfort. It has always been applauded for the space customization options and is quite a good choice for the family-oriented hacthback buyer.
The Japanese car maker introduced the 2020 Jazz at a starting price of ₹7.49 lakh (ex showroom) in August and the car comes with a 1.2-litre i-VTEC petrol engine and prospective buyers can also choose a CVT option. Among the updates are soft touchpad dashboard, cruise control, Auto AC with touchscreen control panel, Multi Information Combimeter with LCD display and ECO ASSIST ambient rings, steering-mounted controls, engine start/stop button.
Polo is clearly - and unequivocally - directed towards the driving enthusiast. It may not have the back-seat space or premium feature list of some of the other options in this list but it seeks to more than make up for it with an impressive 1.0L TSI petrol engine and a solid build quality that remains a key focus area for the folks at Volkswagen. There's 175 Nm of torque for the taking and just in case someone so wants, there's a CVT option too.