There is a marked difference in gas prices this side of the world as well, with a liter of gasoline costing $1, as opposed to the $0.79 in the US. So it’s the cars with the best mileage that sell the most. Automatic Transmissions are also on the rise, especially with Japanese and Korean cars flooding the Indian market. Ultimately in India, it all boils down to budget…
10. Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza: A Budget SUV
The Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza is marketed as a compact SUV by Maruti Suzuki – a merged motor company of the Indian Maruti and the Japanese Suzuki. Available in a diesel variant only, with the petrol variant in process, this SUV is budget and offers the best mileage with one significant drawback – there is no 4WD in it.
A 1.3-liter DDiS diesel engine sputters 89 horses and 148 ft-lb torque, at a mileage of 24kmpl (56mpg). The best in mileage, it also comes in an automatic transmission variant or a standard 5-speed manual gearbox. Depending on the variant chosen, this costs between $10-13.5k (Rs 7.5-10 lakhs).
9. Maruti Suzuki Swift And Swift Dzire: Japanese Budget Hatchback
If you drive down the Indian roads and find a car barrelling down at you looking suspiciously similar to a Mini Cooper, you just met the Maruti Suzuki Swift. A long-standing bestseller, the Swift is a premium hatchback with the best mileage at 28.4 kmpl (66.8mpg), automatic transmission and manual variants, and a budget that fits all pockets.
With Japanese technology backing it, the Swift is now in its third generation. If you don’t want a hatchback but all the performance that the Swift has to offer, you can go for the Swift Dzire, which is a compact sedan with a better engine and luxury upgrades. Engine options for both are the 1.2-liter K-Series engine and the 1.3-liter DDiS (the same in the Brezza). Price ranges between $9-15k (Rs 6.34-10.69 lakhs).
8. Hyundai Verna: Luxury But Budget Sedan
When it comes to mid-size sedans, which are almost the full-size sedans in India, the Hyundai Verna rules the roost over and above the cars from the Japanese Honda and the homeboys Mahindra and Tata. When the Verna was launched, it was considered to be as good as the Mercedes and BMW sedans so available in India at the time.
This, at a price of a mere $11-18k (Rs 7.80-12.95 lakhs). Available in both petrol and diesel variants as well as a 6-speed manual and automatic transmission, Verna’s main competitors are the Honda City and the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz. For now, the Verna leads in both features and sales and offers the best mileage as well.
7. Jeep Compass: 4WD Luxury Compact SUV
Yes, the Jeep finally did make it to India. Though not in the same avatar as the US models with reduced engine displacements and higher prices, because of India’s excise taxes. That said; many made a beeline for this luxurious, compact SUV that still manages the best mileage in its class, though it does stress the budget a bit.
Finally, the Japanese had to bow down to the all-American homeboy since the Jeep Compass is leading sales in the premium compact SUV segment in India. The engine variants are a 1.4-liter and 2.0-liter ones, with a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission in both petrol and diesel options. Priced between $21-30k, the Jeep Compass is for the moneyed Indian.
6. Renault Kwid: Tiny But Automatic Transmission
First-time car buyers in India usually make a beeline for the small cars – these are easy-to-drive on congested roads, offer the best mileage in their class, and come dirt cheap. Like very cheap. So you can buy a Renault Kwid, which is a tiny car for like $4-7k (Rs 2.67-4.60lakh).
Of course with options of a 0.8-liter or a 1.0-liter three-cylinder engine, this isn’t exactly a Ferrari. But it gets the job done on congested roads, with its automatic transmission proving a boon for shift-exhausted drivers. One of its key points is a touchscreen infotainment system, which cars this cheap usually don’t have. At 21-22kmpl (50mpg) – this is a great budget car to have with the best mileage in its class.
5. Hyundai Creta: Compact SUV Leader
The Hyundai Creta may look a little like the Jeep Compass, but the resemblance is merely superficial. While the Creta is also a compact SUV that is ambitious on luxury, this one is no off-roader. It does have plenty of other awesome features, like an alternator management system, a smart entry, a clutch footrest et al.
Available in both petrol (1.6-liter VTVT engine) and diesel variants (1.4 and 1.6-liter CRDi models) – the Creta is the perfect urban compact SUV. The mileage ranges from 16kmpl for the petrol variant to 22kmpl for the diesel ones, which falls in the 38-51mpg range. The price ranges from Rs 9.29-14.60 lakhs which translates to $13-20k.
4.Honda Amaze: Entry-Level Budget Sedan
When it’s Japanese in India it’s Suzuki or Honda. So enters the Honda Amaze, a budget entry-level sedan ready to take on the already established Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire. With an all-new front that falls across all Honda models, the Amaze leads in its CVT – continuously variable transmission, which a much-lauded automatic transmission in budget cars.
Available in both petrol and diesel variants, with both manual and automatic transmission options – the Amaze is competitively priced at Rs 5.6-8.9lakhs or $8-12.5k. Mileage falls in the 19-27.4kmpl range, which is a good 44-58mpg. The rising sales of this car are giving Suzuki some sleepless nights.
3. Hyundai Elite I20: The Korean Wonder
The i20, and the i10 before that have been long-lasting bestsellers with the Indian hatchback fans and the reason is simple. The cars can easily seat a small family, have okay cargo capacity, and are perfect for congested Indian roads. The i20 Elite also comes in automatic transmission over and above the manual variants.
The engine options range from the 1.2-liter VTVT petrol for people on a tighter budget, or a 1.4-liter CRDi engine for the diesel variant. Depending on the fuel option as well as the transmission, price ranges from Rs 5.35-9.16lakhs, or $7.5-12.5k. Mileage ranges from 17.4-22.54kmpl or 42-53mpg. This one is head-on competition for the Maruti Suzuki Baleno hatchback as well.
2. Tata Nexon: Homeboy On A Budget
Other than the Maruti bit in Maruti Suzuki, there aren’t many Indian car makers around, save for Mahindra and Tata. One new entrant in the compact SUV segment in India is the Tata Nexon, which to most Americans will look like a hatchback. Of course in India, even a non-4WD option can be categorized as an SUV, so there.
That said; the Nexon nearly drowns its buyers with features and options and is the most budget-savvy compact SUV on this list. The base petrol option is just Rs 6.58lakhs (under $10k) and the top-end diesel variant is Rs 11.10lakhs ($15.5k). Variants come in both manual and automatic with mileage ranging from 17-21kmpl (40-50mpg).
1. Isuzu D-Max V-Cross: The Cult Pickup
Technically, the Isuzu D-Max V-Cross is India’s only lifestyle/adventure utility vehicle. India’s homeboys did launch their versions of pickups some years back – with the Tata Xenon and the Mahindra Scorpio Getaway – but both these cars failed to make a dent in the market. The Japanese Isuzu however, stands tall and proud as a budget pickup available in both manual and automatic transmission, on a diesel engine.
The all-new Isuzu D-Max V-Cross boasts a 1.9-liter diesel engine, and more options are expected soon. Mileage stands at about 12.5kmpl, which at 30mpg, is okay for a gargantuan this size. At about $20-28k (Rs 15-20lakhs), this is a budget pickup, ideal for the Indian who loves adventure.