India 100 Bhp Budget Hatchback Club – A Buyer’s Guide

Snapshot – 100 Bhp still remains holy grail in the Indian car market’s budget hatchback space. There are few cars that have gone there and few cars that continue to occupy this segment. The future holds better tidings though. Join us, as we take a look at the past, present and future of India’s 100 Bhp hatchback club. If you’re a hatchback buyer seeking outright power, this is the place to be in.

The past…

Fiat Palio 1.6

Fiat Palio S10 Super Sport 3

Fiat gave India her first 100 Bhp hatchback in the form of the Palio 1.6. The car features a 1.6 liter-4 cylinder petrol engine with 100 Bhp and 140 Nm. Gearing was shortened to make best use of this engine’s torque and enthusiasts who grabbed this car still swear by how tractable the Palio 1.6 feels through the gears. Finding a well maintained pre-owned example of this car is tough and the poorly maintained ones go for dirt cheap prices. Used examples start at about 1 lakh rupees, with well maintained ones going for about 2 lakh rupees. Opting for the Palio 1.6 makes sense only if you’re a car collector as the upkeep of this low volume car can get difficult in the times to come.

Skoda Fabia 1.6

Skoda Fabia 1.6

The Skoda Fabia 1.6, in a sense, represented the swansong for this solidly built hatchback. The 1.6 liter, naturally aspirated petrol engine on the Fabia was borrowed from the Volkswagen Vento. While 103 Bhp-153 Nm outputs meant that the Fabia really moved when the revs were kept high, the car liked to gulp plenty fo petrol while at it. This drinking problem meant that the Fabia 1.6 was an ultra low volume example in a car series that was already a low volume bagger. Skoda Fabia 1.6s land up in the used car market from time to time. Cost of upkeep is quite high, a typical Skoda trait, even as spares are accessible. Average cost of the Fabia 1.6 in the pre-owned car market – 3.5 lakh rupees.

Volkswagen Polo 1.6

2014 Volkswagen Polo Facelift 1

Volkswagen’s thrust into hot hatchback territory came with the Polo gaining the 1.6 liter MPI petrol engine from the Vento. However, this engine proved to be a stop gap measure for the Polo’s hot hatch foray. The engine was the same unit that the Fabia 1.6 featured. The powerful petrol engine gave the Polo long legs and a perky demeanour, but the car was second best to the Fabia 1.6 when it came to the ride and handling package. If you want a fast and solid yet affordable hatchback in the pre-owned car market, the Polo 1.6 might float your boat. If you’re worried about service and parts cost, stay away. Average cost of the Polo 1.6 in the pre-owned car market – 4-4.5 lakh rupees.

The present

Volkswagen Polo GT TSI

2014 Volkswagen Polo Facelift 1

The Polo GT TSI is the king of the hill when it comes to affordable, hot hatchbacks in India. The car uses a 1.2 liter turbocharged, four pot petrol engine with 103 Bhp-175 Nm outputs. A 7 speed twin clutch automatic gearbox comes standard in this car, and that’s reponsible for most of the fun that this hatchback delivers. However, the DQ200 gearbox isn’t a paragon of reliability and some owners of the GT TSI have already begun voicing their concerns. So, until that’s sorted out, the GT TSI will be a dicey buy for those who value reliability along with sub-10 second 0-100 Kph sprint times.

Volkswagen Polo GT TDI

Volkswagen Polo 1.6 GT TDI 1

The Volkswagen Polo GT TDI is a manual gearbox equipped diesel hatchback that is powered by a 1.5 liter turbocharged engine. This motor makes 103 Bhp-250 Nm and uses a 5 speed manual gearbox to drive the front wheels of the car. The TDI diesel engine-manual gearbox combination has proven to be a more reliable bet than the combination on the GT TSI. So, if you value peace of mind, the GT TDI seems to be a better bet going by car owner feedback. The GT TDI is also the more fuel efficient of the two cars, making it a preferred option for those who drive large monthly distances.

The future…

Fiat Punto Abarth

Fiat Abarth Punto

By the end of this year, the Fiat Punto EVO will play host to a new engine, in this case the 1.4 liter T-Jet turbocharged petrol unit. The 1.4 liter T-Jet motor on the Punto Abarth is likely to make at least 145 Bhp-207 Nm, which will make the car the most powerful hatchback in its category . The Punto EVO with the more powerful engine could be sold under the Abarth sub-brand. A starting price of under 10 lakhs is likely for the new variant, with a Diwali 2015 launch confirmed.

Fiat Avventura Abarth

Fiat Avventura Front

Like the Punto EVO, the Avventura hatchback based crossover will gain more poke with the inclusion of the 1.4 liter T-Jet turbo petrol engine. The faster Avventura will also be branded an Abarth offering, and will be the priciest variant in Fiat’s hatchback based crossover line up. The Avventura Abarth’s arch rival will naturally be the Ford Ecosport equipped with the Ecoboost turbo petrol engine. Expect a launch by the end of 2015.

Tata Bolt Sport

Tata Bolt Sport Front

Tata Motors is seeking to break into the performance-sub brand segments of the Indian car market. The Bolt Sport will lead the Indian automaker’s foray into this space. The 1.2 liter REVOTRON turbo petrol engine of the Bolt will see an uptune, to 120 Bhp-170 Nm. Other changes will include a stiffer suspension set up and tweaked gearing to make best of the engine’s extra ponies. The Bolt Sport will be a rival of the Volkswagen Polo GT twins and the Abarth line of Fiat Punto based hatchbacks, with a price tag to match. An end 2015 launch is on the cards.