There is nothing close to the experience of buying a new car but not every car may suit every budget. This is why entry-level vehicles are as popular as they are in India.
The need for personal mobility has, perhaps, never been greater than in the past several months with the Covid-19 pandemic throwing regular life out of gear. An unprecedented focus on personal hygiene, coupled with a plethora of safety measures and protocols in place, have changed the way India and the world travels. Mass transit options like buses, trains, metro lines, cabs and auto-rickshaws are either not permitted to operate or even if plying, are being used by mainly those who absolutely must. As such, personal mobility space in the country has seen a strong interest.
Companies like Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai and Tata Motors are leading the way in the passenger vehicle segment and it may well have to do with the strong line-up of entry level cars that each has on offer. The three companies have been on top of the sales chart, consolidating their respective positions of strengths. But every entry-level car may not be suitable for every pocket and while used-car business has seen a whole lot of traction, the sub- ₹5 lakh segment is most of the action is at.
Speaking to HT Auto recently, Shashank Srivastava, Executive Director - Marketing and Sales at Maruti Suzuki India, said that many of the company's customers are first-time buyers or those looking at adding cars to their garage for family members. He underlined the role that brand recognition and trust has to play in such scenarios.
If you are in the market for an entry-level car under the ₹5 lakh market, here's presenting a list of some of the many viable options (all prices are indicative and ex showroom):
Alto has been the undisputed champion in the entry-level PV segment in the country for years and years. It has received multiple updates since its first launch in September of 2000 and now offers many features like dual airbags, a peppy petrol engine, dual-tone interiors and rear-parking sensors. While the entry-level LXi variant may not have all the features available on the car, it still is quite the bang for the buck - considering its impressive mileage, backed by Maruti's robust post-sales network and value in the used-car market.
Dreams often do come true and this is true for Renault when the French car maker attempted to challenge the might of Alto in India with the Kwid. Has the Kwid been able to topple Alto's place of prominence? No. Is Kwid a more stylish option? Sure. The option from the French car maker has done good business in India and is a strong alternative to those who may look at going beyond the Maruti brand. Its latest update ensure that it also looks catchy and the car's mileage of above 20 kmpl makes it a strong player in its segment.
Here is a car that was the first to call out the dominance of Maruti 800 head on. Called the 'Sunshine Car' during its initial days here, the Santro has been known for its comfortable cabin, reliable drive and ability to munch miles with a scrumptious sense of purpose. The latest Santro may look nothing like the Santros gone by but Hyundai claims it is safer than ever and comes loaded. At its entry-level point - Era Executive, the car offers ABS, driver airbag and rear parking sensor - among a few other things to woo buyers with.
While its on-road price for the entry-level variant may push the tag to above ₹5 lakh, the WagonR makes a good case for itself to be in the list. While factors such as mileage, brand and post-sales network are as relevent here as they are for the Alto, the WagonR offers a more spacious cabin and a comparatively higher ride experience to be a better option for families.
Tata Tiago ( ₹4.60 lakh):
Tiago has a safety rating of four stars from Global NCAP. If that isn't why you should consider this car, although you should, there are more reasons. Much like WagonR, the final on-road price may be at or slightly above ₹5 lakh but the Tiago has the looks and space to make a case for itself. Tata Motors has been working on improving its post-sales network and the customer perception towards the brand has seen a noticeable shift in recent times. While the car also comes with a plethora of features, the entry-level may not have these and hence, these features don't find a mention here.