As the Indian economy opens up, more and more people are going out to buy their dream vehicles, some first-time buyers and some buying again. As seen over the years, petrol vehicles are taking a front seat in India post the BS6 regime and the price difference in cost of acquisition is pushing buyers towards petrol-fueled vehicles, a trend that has been acknowledged by automakers and some of them have discontinued diesel vehicles altogether.
Having said that, there’s still a big segment of buyers who are preferring diesel cars due to the fuel efficiency they deliver and want their vehicles fully loaded. With the arrival of affordable automatic gearboxes of various kinds, the diesel-auto combination is seen as a holy grail of a car. We list down the top 5 best diesel automatic cars in India under INR 20 Lakh.
Price - INR 11.29 - 13.35 lakh* (diesel-automatic)
In many ways, the Kia Sonet has created a benchmark for compact SUVs in India, a segment largely on focus among Indian buyers looking to buy their first vehicles. One of the reasons for the Sonet's success has to be the kind of engine and gearbox options it gets. The Sonet comes with multiple engines and gearbox options including a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit, two 1.5-litre diesel units with a different state of tunes and a 1.2-litre petrol unit. The gearbox options include a 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual, 6-speed AT, 7-speed dual-clutch automatic and an iMT gearbox. However, the engine we are focusing on is the 1.5-litre diesel unit mated to a 6-speed AT gearbox. With this powertrain combination, Kia Sonet is easily one of the best diesel automatic cars in India.
The car borrows a good deal of features from the Seltos compact SUV and packs it in a comprehensive package that is hard to overlook. In the hotly contested segment, the Kia Sonet locks horns with a few of the popular badges in the country like the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza, Hyundai Venue, Tata Nexon and Mahindra XUV300. Sonet gets the segment's largest 10.25-inch HD touchscreen infotainment system, built-in eSIM for UVO car connectivity features, push-button start with keyless entry, automatic climate control, wireless charger, electric sunroof, rear AC vents, six airbags and much more. Prices for the base variant with the petrol powertrain start at INR 6.79 lakh*, which goes up to INR 13.35 lakh* for the 1.0-litre turbo-petrol GTX+ version with the 7-speed DCT.
Price - INR 16.44 - 17.65 lakh* (diesel-automatic)
This compact SUV from the Korean carmaker happens to be the best-selling SUV in the country, even outpacing cars cheaper than the Creta. In its second generation, Creta has been a popular choice among SUV buyers ever since it was first introduced 5 years back and remains a top seller despite the increase in competition. One of the most important selling points for the Creta is the powertrain options it offers. While the new Hyundai Creta gets a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, available with a 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), the engine of focus here is a 1.5-litre diesel engine that can be availed with a 6-speed manual transmission as standard. Besides, this engine also gets an optional automatic transmission. With this option, Hyundai Creta is considered one of the best diesel automatic cars in India.
There’s also a 1.5-litre petrol engine to choose from. The Hyundai Creta's prices start at INR 9.99 lakh* in the Indian market. It goes up against the likes of the Kia Seltos, Tata Harrier and MG Hector. It has segment-leading features like sunroof, wireless charging, Ventilated seats, among other features.
Price - INR 9.15 - 9.99 lakh* (diesel-automatic)
In a world of SUVs, it’s a surprise that a compact sedan has made it to our list. Truth be told, there are many buyers who don’t want to go for a sedan against a SUV. However, budget constraints and practicality are some factors that are still relevant in the small sedan segment and Honda Amaze is one such product. It offers a 1.5 litre diesel engine with a CVT gearbox, only of its kind in the sedan segment below INR 10 Lakh* in India. It is also the only sedan on the list of the best diesel automatic cars in India.
Apart from the engine itself, the Honda Amaze promises class leading cabin space and mileage, making it a promising product. Features wise, the Honda Amaze gets the latest Honda infotainment system with touchscreen, automatic climate control, and many other features. Honda Amaze goes up against the likes of Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Ford Aspire and Hyundai Aura.
Price - INR 17.25 - 21.81 lakh* (diesel-automatic)
Tata Motors, the homegrown automaker and the parent of iconic brand names like Safari has once again reintroduced the Safari brand in India renaming the Gravitas SUV. The Gravitas was introduced at the 2020 Auto Expo as the extended version of the Tata Harrier and now gets a third row of seating. Tata Safari carries the same Harrier looks with considerable change in the roofline, increased height and enlarged rear overhang. In terms of length, the Safari is longer and taller than the Harrier by 63 mm and 80 mm, respectively. While the new Safari's dashboard design is similar to the Harrier, it gets Oyster White upholstery that adds airyness to the cabin.
When it comes to the engine, the Safari, like Harrier is powered by a singular 2.0-litre Kryotec diesel engine that can produce 170 bhp of power and 350 Nm of torque. It is mated to either a manual or an automatic gearbox. In terms of features, it has electrically adjustable driver’s seat, 8.8-inch floating touchscreen infotainment system, keyless entry, panoramic sunroof and push-button start among others.
Price - INR 10.08 - 12.95 lakh* (diesel-automatic)
Last on our list of the best diesel automatic cars in India is the Tata Nexon, India’s safest compact SUV (As per Global NCAP crash test rating). The Tata Nexon is the brand’s first compact SUV that has garnered tremendous response from the buyers. So much is the demand for the Nexon that it became the best selling Tata car crossing 9000 units last month. One of the reasons for the Nexon’s success is its multitude of variant options with engine and gearbox combinations.
The Tata Nexon is being offered with a 1.5-litre diesel unit and is mated to a 5-speed AMT gearbox, making it value-for-money. The prices for the diesel auto starts at INR INR 9.93 lakh* and goes up to INR 12.80 lakh* for the top-spec variant and there are 6 variants to choose from, the highest among all the cars available in India. Apart from that, feature-wise, it gets a floating dashtop mounted infotainment system, Harman surrounding sound audio system among other features.