If you are a person who loves driving and are looking for a premium sedan between Rs. 12 lakh and Rs. 18 lakh, which are the right cars for you? The premium sedan segment in India has a good mix of cars that cater to comfort as well as driving pleasure.
An enthusiast seeks a car that has sharp handling, good power on tap for quick pick up and good top-end speed for those times when you want to stretch your legs on an open highway. The cars should have easy to use gearboxes which aid in quick pick up and should provide the driver good levels of comforts without tiring him out. Features and passenger comforts are secondary.
Here are three cars that we think would satisfy the enthusiast in you when it comes to driving pleasure.
Price range: Rs. 13.85 lakh – Rs. 15.87 lakh
The new Chevrolet Cruze launched in June 2012, has an even more powerful engine than its predecessor. It comes with a 2-litre diesel engine that puts out 163 bhp of power and increased torque of 380 Nm. It comes with a choice of either a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission. The manual has a bit of a hard clutch and there is significant turbo lag, but if you drive it keeping the RPM above 1800 rpm, it can really move. Enthusiasts describe it as a “diesel rocket”, and although that nomenclature is a bit exaggerated, the Cruze is a car that is exciting to drive. The steering feel is quite good and the suspension is fairly stiff allowing for some good handling. It is available in three variants – LT, LTZ and LTZ automatic. Also read: Chevrolet launches new Cruze
Price range: Rs. 12.9 lakh – Rs. 19.1 lakh
The Skoda Laura has a car for every kind of buyer. Enthusiasts who aren’t really bothered with fuel economy would do well to pick the petrol Laura RS, that’s priced at Rs. 15.5 lakh. There are huge discounts being offered with the car. The Laura RS is powered by a 1.8 litre turbo-charged petrol engine that puts out 160 bhp of power and 250 Nm of torque with a six-speed manual transmission. The clutch has a nice positive action to it, and the gear throws are short, allowing for some enthusiastic driving. It gets ABS, EBD and airbags.
If petrol is not your fuel of choice, you can pick the diesel variant of the Laura powered by a 2-litre 140 bhp diesel engine. It comes with a five-speed manual transmission or a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. In fact, the DSG is a better car than the manual as it has faster shifts and a tiptronic mode, which gives you the best of both worlds – enthusiastic driving and comfortable cruising. Also see: Skoda Laura RS action video
Price range: Rs. 13.6 lakh – Rs. 18.9 lakh
The Volkswagen Jetta comes in both petrol and diesel now, but it is the diesel car that is more fun. The petrol Jetta is powered by a 1.4 litre turbo-petrol engine that puts out just 120 bhp of power. The diesel Jetta shares its engine with the Skoda Laura and comes with a 2-litre diesel putting out 140 bhp of power and 320 Nm of torque. The diesel Jetta has good handling and great build quality. It is a cheaper Audi A4 in a sense, as it has similar styling and driving dynamics.
Other cars in this segment include the Hyundai Elantra, which is great on features but let down by a steering that lacks feel and bouncy ride at high speed. Then there’s the Honda Civic, once a segment favourite, but fast losing ground and faces an uncertain future. The Toyota Corolla Altis petrol is a bit too sedate for enthusiasts, while the Renault Fluence diesel lacks power and the petrol lacks a manual transmission, while the CVT automatic isn’t much fun either.
Share your thoughts on the best car for enthusiasts in the Rs. 12 lakh – Rs. 18 lakh segment.