The Coronavirus pandemic resulted in the global economy shutting down and India has become one of the most affected countries. Already suffering from a 50 percent sales dip last year, the coronavirus further dented the hopes of revival for the auto industry. However, post lockdown, India is en route to regaining normalcy as manufacturers have resumed production at full capacity and dealerships are also working overtime to meet the festive season demand.
So quick has been the recovery that the sales in September 2020 surpassed the numbers from the previous month and also from the same period last year, revealing the ‘new normal’. One of the driving force for such high sales is the fear of travelling in public transport. As people fear contamination from various forms of public transportation, sales of affordable personal vehicles have really picked up. Hence, if you are in the market for an affordable car, here are your five safest bets under the INR 7 lakh* mark -
The Renault Kwid came out as a saviour for the French automaker in India. Despite having stiff competition from India’s most selling car – the Maruti Suzuki Alto – it proved itself as a worthy entry level hatchback thanks to its design, features and powertrain options. It its latest avatar, the car has improved further in terms of overall packaging. The new Kwid gets the MEDIANAV Evolution infotainment system that comes with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth connectivity and voice commands.
What also works in favour of the Kwid is its boot space capacity of 279 litres, which is more than the Maruti Suzuki S-Presso and the Datsun redi-GO. Unlike the Maruti Alto, which now only gets only a 800 cc engine, the Kwid gets two engine options - an 800-cc unit that delivers 54 hp and 72 Nm and a 1.0-litre block that churns out 68 hp and 91 Nm. The facelifted Renault Kwid is priced at INR 2.92 lakh*.
In many ways, the Tiago revived the fortune for Tata Motors and is one of the most value-for-money entry-level hatchbacks in India. In its most recent update, the Tata Tiago gets few updates over its predecessor including a re-designed exterior, a fully-digital instrument cluster; along with a new touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
When it comes to the powertrain, the Tata Tiago gets a BS-VI compliant 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine that delivers 84 bhp and 113 Nm of torque. The engine can be mated to either a five-speed manual or five-speed AMT. The price for the Tata Tiago starts at INR 4.70 lakh*.
This may come as a surprising entry to the list but the Renault Triber, being a seven-seater MPV, is one of the most competent products to buy under INR 7 lakh, despite multiple hatchback options. With prices starting at INR 4.99 lakh*, the Triber comes as a neat package that has plenty of aspects to woo Indians. The biggest highlight has to be the 5+2 seating cabin layout with a removable third row and a massive boot space of 625-litre.
The car is powered by a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that puts out 70 bhp and a little under 100 Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a manual transmission as well as an AMT. In terms of features, the car gets key-less entry and start, a touchscreen multimedia system, dual glove-boxes for additional storage and a cooled box in the centre. On the safety front, the car gets ABS and EBD as well
Hyundai Grand i10 Nios
The Grand i10 has been a popular badge in the hatchback segment, competing against the likes of the Maruti Swift. However, for someone looking to buy a feature-packed good looking car other than a Maruti-Suzuki, the Grand i10 Nios is a perfect option. The car gets a 1.0-litre turbo-petrol engine that has an output of 100 hp and 172 Nm of torque, paired to a 5-speed manual transmission. Also on offer is a NA 1.2-litre Kappa engine that puts out 82 bhp and 114 Nm of torque; along with a 1.2-litre diesel engine that delivers 74 hp and 190 Nm of torque.
The Grand i10 Nios offers first-in-segment features like a wireless phone charger, 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple Car Play; along with an Arkamys premium sound system. Safety features in the car come in the form of dual airbags with seat belt tensioners, ABS with EBD and rear parking sensors. Prices for the Hyundai Grand i10 Nios start at INR 5 lakh*.
Last on our list is the popular Maruti Baleno, a premium hatchback that constantly ranks on the list of most-sold cars of India. Despite facing initial competition from the Hyundai Elite i20, the Baleno managed to stay ahead of the game thanks to a no-nonsense package that not only looks good, but has massive cabin space and modern features. There’s only a 1.2-litre petrol unit on offer that generates 84 bhp and 114 Nm of torque. The engine gets a five-speed manual as standard, while the higher variants offer a CVT option.
Inside, the Baleno gets a dark-themed cabin to add a sporty touch and a unique layout for dashboard. The standout features include a SmartPlay Studio infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic climate control and projector headlamps ith LED DRLs. Standard safety features include dual front airbags, ABS with EBD, ISOFIX child seat mounts and rear parking sensors are standard. Prices for the Maruti Suzuki Baleno starts at INR 5.70 lakh*.