A lot of customers in India have ride quality as one of the key parameters for choosing a vehicle. Here’s a list of the vehicles in India across categories that offer the best ride quality in their segments.
A vehicle that offers good ride quality should have a decent balance between suspension softness and firmness, so that the vehicle does not roll too much on corners, the suspension should not bottom out (hit its limits) with a thud on bad roads, and yet should be soft enough to cushion passengers without becoming too bouncy.
Here’s a look at cars that offer the best ride quality across segments, and although each has one car that is the best, most segments have other close contenders bordering on a tie.
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Almost all the hatchbacks in India come with a McPherson strut front suspension set up (coil spring and shock absorber combined strut assembly) and at the rear you mainly have a simple multi-link set up with coil springs. Only the Tata Nano has a different set-up owing to its rear-engine design. Most of the hatchbacks are quite light and hence there is some degree of bounciness at the rear.
However, the hatchback that offers the best ride quality is most probably the Honda Brio, as it has a design which maximizes passenger comfort with wheels placed wide and at the corners, a suspension that’s stiff enough for sporty handling, and plush enough not to throw its occupants about. The Brio is closely followed by Maruti’s Wagon R that also does a decent job of cushioning passengers.
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Fiat Grande Punto
Among premium hatchbacks it is quite difficult to choose the car that offers the best ride quality, as there is a close contention between the Fiat Grande Punto, the Hyundai i20 and the Skoda Fabia. The Maruti Swift has a suspension that’s a bit too stiff for comfort, but great for sporty handling. The Ford Figo has a rather soft suspension that tends to bottom out. All the cars have a McPherson strut assembly in front. The Nissan Micra and Renault Pulse are also good, but are a little skittish at speed.
Overall, if we had to pick a car, we would go with the Fiat Grande Punto as it has a well-sorted ride and glides quite well over most road surfaces, and the new Punto with increased ground clearance is quite a good all-rounder. But it’s a close call.
Among entry level sedans there are quite a few that offer a good ride quality. These cars too all have McPherson struts in front and the rear suspension on most are variants of a multi-link coil spring system. The earlier Indigo used to have an independent rear suspension set up that was comfortable, but bottomed out. The Manza has improved on that with a semi-independent design. And then there’s the Toyota Etios that is also in the reckoning. The Dzire is a bit too stiff overall.
If we had to pick one, we’d go with the Tata Manza, as it has a plush ride that is well sorted. It may not be a sporty handler, but it’s ride quality is among the best in entry sedans, offering a luxury car feel.
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When it comes to mid-size sedans, things get a little more complicated as manufacturers have been trying to outdo each other in bringing in some rear-seat comfort as well as a good driving feel. The Honda City has a sporty ride and is quite plush. The long wheelbase Renault Scala and Nissan Sunny also are pretty luxurious in their ride quality. The Hyundai Verna is a bit bouncy at the rear. The Vento and Rapid are slightly stiff and offer the driver great control, but not that great for passengers. The Fiat Linea is another car that offers a great mix of driver feel and good ride quality.
Overall, it’s a very close call between the Fiat Linea and the Renault Scala and Nissan Sunny. The Linea probably has an edge here as it feels plusher and offers a mature ride at almost any speed without bothering passengers. Scala and Sunny rear seats are great, but a little low set.
Also read: Suspension troubles? What to fix and how!
Among the premium sedans, or cars that cost between Rs. 12 lakh and Rs. 18 lakh, it gets even trickier to choose a car that has the best ride quality as there are many contenders. The Skoda Laura and Toyota Altis are really comfortable cars. Throw in the Volkswagen Jetta and it gets even more difficult to choose. The Civic has a good ride a well, but the suspension tends to bottom out. The Chevrolet Cruze is tuned more for sportiness and is a bit stiff. The new Hyundai Elantra is good too, but still is a bit bouncy at speed. And then there’s the Renault Fluence, a car that glides over almost anything.
In this segment, it’s a close call between the Renault Fluence and the Toyota Altis – both cars that have great passenger comfort and ride quality. However, in terms of overall ride at all speeds, the Fluence is probably just marginally better than the Toyota Altis. Also see: Renault Fluence CVT road test
We’re not getting into the luxury segment here, because the choices are vast and ride quality is one of the key parameters on all these cars. Choosing between one and the other becomes quite difficult here, when you throw in the Skoda Superb, BMW 3, Mercedes C-Class, Volkswagen Passat, Toyota Camry and Honda Accord among others. We’ll leave it to you, the CarToq community, to tell us which of these you feel offers the best ride quality.
Share your views in the comments below.