10 BEST cars (sedans & hatchbacks) for rough roads: 2017 Edition

It is a well known fact that the roads in our country aren’t the best. Keeping that in mind, here are 10 vehicles that can easily tackle the harsh roads that India has to offer. We’re focusing on sedans and hatchbacks as SUVs anyway have great ground clearance.

Entry level hatch

In the entry level hatchback segment, we have the Kwid and the Nano competing for the ‘best car for rough roads‘ title.

Tata Nano

Winner

Tata Nano

The Nano is the vehicle that has won in this segment. The main reason behind it is the fact that it has a short wheelbase, coupled with the 180 mm ground clearance (190 on manual vehicles). Here is what the owners had to say regarding the same:

  1. Great ground clearance, Team-BHP said somewhere that it has 190 mm ground clearance for manual model and 180 mm for AMT. Whatever, it hates to kiss road abnormalities!
    Source: Link

  2. Am surprised the Alto sells more than Nano – no match really sales wise – but the pros still beat out the cons. Atleast for me the deciding factors are – 180mm high ground clearance.
    Source: Link

This makes the Nano ideal to drive around, especially in the city and out on broken roads. There is no chance of this one scraping over anything, thanks to its short overhangs, small wheelbase and high ground clearance.

Renault Kwid

Runner’s up

Kwid2

The Kwid was launched as a hatchback crossover. It has muscular styling, something that you would associate with a SUV, however it is very much a hatchback. The Kwid has 180 mm ground clearance which makes it pretty tall. Here is what owner’s have had to say about the vehicle:

  1. Kwid has the best ride & handling in it’s class. Ride quality of Kwid is the best out of all cars in my garage. It rides like a car which is one or two segments up. Broken roads are handled with ease due to 180 mm GC.
    Source: Link

  2. I am not exaggerating when I say that I drive Kwid on bad roads exactly how I drive my Safari. 180 mm ground clearance and a great ride quality makes bad road travel a walk in the park. The ride quality is extremely good by the segment standards (even a couple segments above too).
    Source: Link

This certainly means that the Kwid is capable enough to handle the rough stuff. Not only is the ground clearance good, but the suspension setup is also best suited for our roads.

Compact hatchback

In the compact hatchback space, the competition is a lot stiffer, due to the wider range of options on offer. Here are the vehicles that came up on top:

Fiat Punto

Winner

Fiat Punto EVO

The Punto is the vehicle with the highest ground clearance in the segment. While some variants have 195 mm, the other’s have 185 mm. Either way, this is the highest in the segment. That coupled with the fact that the suspension is setup for comfort makes this a good choice for the bad roads in India. Here is what consumers had to say:

  1. Ground clearance being on the higher side, makes it easy to drive on broken patches, but leaves a huge gap between the wheel and wheelarch.
    Source: Link

  2. Sufficient ground clearance to tackle potholes and bumpers on our not so well engineered Indian roads.
    Source: Link

Ford Figo

Runner’s up

Figo auto

Ford raised the ground clearance of its Figo, when it introduced it in the Indian market. While the previous one was known to scrape, the new one is on top with with 174 mm ground clearance. Here is what users had to say:

  1. Body roll despite this height is controlled and ground clearance is excellent. Haven’t scraped anywhere. As a civic owner, this comes as a breath of fresh air, as I no longer need to tiptoe over big speed-breakers.
    Source: Link

Crossovers

The crossovers have mainly been brought in the market to tackle this problem. Here we are talking about the hatchbacks that have been raised and not the compact SUVs.

Fiat Avventura

Winner

Fiat Avventura

The Avventura was showcased at the 2014 Auto Expo as a rugged crossover for those who wanted something unique. It came with a ground clearance of 205 mm, making it higher than most of the compact SUVs that are on sale in the Indian market. This obviously means that it is best suited for the bad roads. Here is what a few owners have to say:

  1. Off-roading experience was better than expected. Drove around 5 km in an unpaved track that had huge craters, rocks, and highly undulating surface. Nothing touched the car from beneath. Suspension also did fairly good in not passing the jerks to the passengers. Only Scorpio or Duster would have done a better job. Satisfied!
    Source: Link

  2. As we were not able to take the car to really bad stretches due to bumper to bumper traffic on our way, I purposely took the car over a broken road divider for a distance of 100 meter approx. The divider was 6 to 9 inch tall and was broken by default at every foot interval. Right sided tyres were passing over the divider and left side tyres were on the regular road surface, believe me, not even the SE could make out that car tires are running on the dividers, however upcoming drivers were giving some expressions. I must say that I have not come across such a butt friendly thing in this budget.
    Source: Link

Hyundai i20 Active

Runner’s up 

Hyundai i20 Active

Hyundai launched a more rugged avatar of the i20 to take on the likes of the Polo Cross and the Etios Cross. Unlike other manufacturers, Hyundai did actually change the ground clearance of the Active. It now stands at 190 mm as opposed to the 170 mm which the normal i20 Elite has. Here is what other owners had to say:

  1. I don’t care much about the Active’s additional cladding, other faux cross-roader bits and new interior highlights, but the 190 mm GC is very welcome. Not that the Elite i20’s 170 mm isn’t enough, but the additional 20 mm gives one some peace of mind over bad roads, nasty speed breakers, steep entrance/exit ramps and other such unexpected oddities in everyday driving.
    Source: Link

  2. Does it save the car from actually scrapping the big bumps and the like?
    Very much. The enhanced ground clearance of
    190 mm is the main reason for our selection of
    i20 Active. Ford Aspire with 174 mm ground clearance and 5 people on board scraped a huge hump.

    Source: Link

While the Avventura does have the highest ground clearance, the company has not been selling large numbers of the vehicle in the Indian market, which means resale value will not be really high.

Compact sedans

The compact sedan market in India is growing and hence, this is an important criteria to check.

Toyota Etios

Winner

Etios

The Etios, while not a sub 4-meter sedan, still falls under this category. The vehicle is just above the 4-meter mark. It is very roomy and comfortable to be in. It has a ground clearance of
174 mm, which makes it among the highest in this segment. Here is what users have to say:

  1. I have driven my relative’s Etios and found the ground clearance to be decent. I did not scrape any of the notorious speed breakers that are found in abundance in Bangalore.
    Source: Link

  2. No underbelly hits on the enormous speed breakers with the GC of 174 mm.
    Source: Link

Ford Aspire

Runner’s up

aspire

Like the Figo hatchback, the sedan too shares the same 174 mm ground clearance. This is the highest in the segment. Here is what users had to say about it:

  1. Have driven the car with 3 adults through some really large speed bumps and there was no under body contact – good ground clearance
    Source: Link

  2. Ground clearance is good and I have not encountered any weird or damaging under body scraping incidents.
    Source: Link

Sedans

It is the sedan segment that is very tricky. In a bid to make the vehicles looks nice and sporty, many manufacturers have lowered the sedans. Here is what comes up on top:

Fiat Linea

Winner

linea

The Linea is the vehicle with the highest ground clearance in this segment. It has a clearance of 185 mm. This coupled with the suspension setup makes it a comfortable vehicle to be in. Here is what users have to say:

  1. The car has the highest ground clearance in the segment and driving over those awfully broken roads no more lead to sighs and phews. The car also comes with full metal engine protection guard and a rear hard plastic cladding which will give you all the peace of mind just in case you scrape something.
    Source: Link

  2. Ground clearance is simply superb – never hit anything till now, despite going through huge humps on rural roads in TN and deep ‘trenches’ in Kerala roads.
    Source: Link

Maruti Ciaz

Runner’s up

Maruti Suzuki Ciaz Hybrid 2

To round up this list, we have the Ciaz which comes in second place. It has a ground clearance of 170 mm, higher than that of the City and the Verna, thus it makes it to this list. Here is what users had to say:

  1. Ciaz has a GC of 170mm which is similar to that of the Chevy Beat I own. But the longer wheelbase of Ciaz was a worry initially during the purchase. My Beat has never scraped anywhere, in all its 75000km till date. And Ciaz, so far, till 7100km of its usage, has not scraped once despite the longer wheelbase. I have had 4 occupants and boot loaded with 4 big travel bags, even then, the underbody did not scrape. Only once, on a larger than life sized speed bump, the flap behind the front wheel (supposedly for aerodynamics) scraped the bump, otherwise the GC is adequate for our driving conditions.
    Source: Link

  2. Most important thing, CAR DOES NOT SCRAPE/TOUCH ANY SPEED BREAKER OR BUMP. GROUND CLEARANCE IS FAB.
    Source: Link