Snapshot – Budget hatchbacks usually handle bad roads better than sedans. Stiff suspensions, short wheelbases and short overhangs are a few reasons why most hatchbacks manage to avoid scraping their underbodies on potholes and speed breakers. While the hatchback segment does have its share of outliers that suffer from underbody scraping, here’s a list of 10 budget cars – mostly hatchbacks – sold in India that have copious ground clearances, and good bad road handling ability.
The Nano is the world’s least priced car but also one that you can rely on when the roads get nasty. Armed with a 180 mm ground clearance, made stronger by the short 2,230 mm wheelbase and almost zero overhangs, the Nano is a bad road champion. Available with petrol and CNG fuel options, the 624cc twin cylinder engine of the hatchback puts out 37 Bhp-51 Nm. With the base variant now discontinued, the Nano starts at 1.97 lakh rupees for the CX trim.
As hardy as a cockroach, the Maruti Omni is another price warrior whose claim to fame is its stiff suspension, which gives the 165 mm ground clearance an extra inch or two. With leaf springs handling suspension duties at the rear of this passenger van, the Omni will bounce its way across bad roads rather than bottom out. The 796cc, 3 cylinder F8D engine in petrol and LPG guises handles propulsion. Prices start at 2.47 lakh rupees. Notably, the Omni is the only passenger vehicle in India that still operates with a 4 speed manual transmission.
Maruti Suzuki Ritz
The Maruti Suzuki Ritz shares its underpinnings and various parts with the Swift hatchback, along with its 170 mm ground clearance. What clearly tilts the scales in favour of the Ritz’s bad road handling ability is the hatchback’s 2,360 mm wheelbase, which makes it a much better bet than the Swift on poor surfaces. If Maruti ever comes around to building a cross variant of its hatchbacks, the Ritz would be the leading contender. The car is sold with petrol and diesel engines, and prices start from 4.38 lakh rupees.
The Hyundai Eon is a hatchback that combines a generous ground clearance of 170 mm with a short, 2,380 mm wheelbase. The car offers decent ability on bad roads. Sold with an 814cc, triple cylinder engine that gets petrol and LPG options, the Eon starts at 3.02 lakh rupees, making it the least priced Hyundai sold in the country. The car is also offered with a 1 liter-3 cylinder Kappa petrol motor.
Hyundai i20 Active
Weeks away from launch,the Hyundai i20 Active is a Cross iteration of the i20 Elite hatchback. While the hatchback features a 170 mm ground clearance, the i20 Active is expected to improve on this mm with a further 10 mm or so, giving it enough clearance to take on the difficult stuff. The i20 Active will be sold with 1.2 liter petrol and 1.4 liter turbo diesel engine options. Prices are expected to start from near the 5.65 lakh rupees.
The Mahindra E2O is the only hatchback in the Indian car and utility vehicle maker’s portfolio and a vehicle that also gets a generous ground clearance of 180 mm, enough to match the very best in the segment, the Tata Nano. The car’s 1,958 mm wheelbase means that’s even shorter than the Nano, giving the car an even better shot at maximizing its bad roads handling ability. The E2O is an electric car that is quite pricey, with prices starting from 5,96 lakh rupees.
The Datsun Go’s 170 mm ground clearance makes it one of the best budget cars in the Renault-Nissan stable, as far as handling bad roads is concerned. The hatchback is a class leader when it comes to space and performance on offer, with ample dimensions and a 1.2 liter-3 cylinder petrol engine. The car is based on a low cost platform engineered out of the Nissan Micra’s V platform. Prices start at 3.24 lakh rupees.
Toyota Etios Cross
The Cross variant of the Toyota Liva hatchback, the Etios Cross offers rugged looks and a tall, 174 mm ground clearance. Based on the Etios low cost platform, the car is sold with multiple engine options – 1.2 liter and 1.5 liter petrols, and a 1.4 liter diesel. The Etios Cross is also a spacious car that offers Toyota’s legendary reliability. Prices of the Etios Cross start at 6.23 lakh rupees.
Fiat Punto EVO
Armed with a 195 mm ground clearance, the Fiat Punto EVO is the tallest riding hatchback in India. The car is available with multiple engine options – two petrol engines with 1.2 liter and 1.4 liter capacities, and a 1.3 liter turbo diesel motor in two states of tune. The Punto EVO is also known for its fantastic ride and handling package, giving the car a great balance between handling and ride quality. Prices start at 4.94 lakh rupees.
The Avventura is the jacked up version of the Punto EVO, and a car that also benefits from butch looks on the back of body cladding and stylistic changes. Like the Punto EVO, the Avventura delivers sharp handling and a good ride, a combination that’s rare in the hatchback segment. With all this, the Avventura features a hefty 205 mm ground clearance that even shames most SUVs. Sold with petrol and diesel engines, prices of the Avventura start at 6.44 lakh rupees.