India is en route to regaining normalcy after a lockdown spanning multiple weeks. Manufacturers are now resuming production at plants and dealerships are functioning once again to bolster sales and recover from the ongoing slump. One of the glaring outcomes of the pandemic, as we adjust to the ‘new normal’, is the future demand for personal vehicles.
As public transport is expected to be a hotbed for infections, more people are expected to buy new affordable personal vehicles to stay safe. This could mean brighter days for manufacturers with entry-level cars that fall under INR 5 lakh in their line-up. Several studies and experts have said that the demand for entry-level personal vehicles will increase. Hence, if you are in the market looking for your first car, here are your five safest bets for cars under INR 5 Lakh*.
The recent update on the Datsun redi-GO has made the deal a lot sweeter. The car’s updated design has made way for a more mature and aggressive look. New cosmetic tweaks come in the form of L-shaped Daytime Running Lights (DRL), sleek headlamps with silver accents, LED fog lamps, 14-inch wheels with a dual-tone wheel cover, LED tail-lamps, and updated door trim with fabric. The car now stands as the most affordable car in India with looks to match its persona at INR 2.83 lakh*.
Renault latest update for the Kwid was a laudable one. The car now comes with a new design and sports a new imposing front fascia among other tweaks. The car has shown a substantial leap in terms of features as well. The update has brought in plenty of addition in the cabin as well. It gets a new steering wheel, a redesigned dash and a fully-digital instrument cluster. Also on offer is the new MEDIANAV Evolution infotainment system that comes with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity and voice commands. There’s a piano black surround for the touchscreen with subtle chrome accents, which feels quite premium for the segment.
What also works in its favour is that the Kwid gets a boot space capacity of 279 litres, which is more than the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso and the Datsun redi-GO. At its heart is an 800-cc unit that delivers 54 hp and 72 Nm of torque and a 1.0-litre block that churns out 68 hp and 91 Nm of torque. The facelifted Renault Kwid comes at INR 2.92 lakh*.
Maruti Suzuki Alto
The Maruti Suzuki Alto requires no introduction. The car has been one of the best-selling models for the largest selling manufacturer in India. Over two decades of being on sale in India, the Alto crossed 40 lakh unit in India alone. The car has also made frequent appearance in the top-10 best-selling cars of the country. The Maruti Suzuki Alto has been the preferred choice of Indian car buyers with 76 per cent of Alto customers choosing it as their first car. The Alto was first launched in 2000 and has been on sales for the past 20 years.
In its current avatar, the car was available with a 1.0-litre K10 variant as well as the 800 cc model. While the 800 cc model produces 48 hp and is paired to a 5-speed manual only, the K10 is now replaced by Maruti Suzuki S-Presso. At the start of this year, the 800 cc Alto underwent a facelift; received a cosmetic makeover, the engine was upgraded to meet BS6 emission standards, and it meets upcoming crash- and pedestrian safety regulations.
On the inside, the cabin gets dual-tone finish with new air-con ducts and a new instrument cluster. Moreover, the new Alto gets the Smart Play Dock with Bluetooth connectivity. This Smart Play Dock transforms the phone into a touch interface to access calls, music, navigation and more. Price for the car starts at INR 2.95 lakh*.
Maruti Suzuki S-Presso
The Maruti Suzuki S-Presso embodies the formula of a successful car in the faux-SUV segment. The intention this time around was to make the segment more accessible to the customers. Hence, say hello to India’s first micro-SUV. It’s top-rung VXI plus trim gets manual air conditioning, front only power windows, a touchscreen multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and useable cup and bottle holders upfront. It also gets steering mounted controls for audio and Bluetooth telephony. However, it missed out on lock-unlock button, a rear wash-wipe, and an interior rearview mirror with a day-night flick switch.
The Maruti Suzuki S-Presso is powered by the same K10 engine that powered the Alto K10 and serves as the replacement for the car. The engine comes with BS-VI compliance and produces 64 bhp and 90 Nm of torque through a 5-speed manual transmission. Prices for the car starts at INR 3.71 lakh*.
The Santro rooted Hyundai’s brand name in India. And after being absent in the market for a while, Hyundai brought back the Santro badge in a rather interesting package. Hyundai discontinued Santro after 16 years of service, and revived the nameplate again after 4 years, however, it's mostly the all-new i10 that got the Santro name. In line with its stablemates, the new Hyundai Santro comes with a few segment-first features like a 7-inch touchscreen audio-video system. The multi-media system has Android Auto, Apple Carplay and Mirror Link along with supporting Voice Recognition Function & Rear Parking Camera display on the screen.
The new Hyundai Santro is powered by a 1.0-litre petrol engine which produces 69 ps at 5,500 pm and there's both AMT and manual gearboxes on offer. Prices for the new Santro starts at INR 4.57 lakh*.