Best Cars Under 15 Lakhs in India: Santro to Creta

Best Cars Under 15 Lakhs in India: Hyundai Santro to Creta

The Indian car market has over 54 different options under Rs 15 lakh (on-road price) and that can put a prospective like you in a sheer dilemma. The entire exercise of picking the best choice as per your preference of budget and body type can be a mentally challenging exercise. But fret not, as we have done the homework on your behalf to come up with the best cars you can buy for under Rs 15 lakh (on-road price) in India across segments.

We filtered the list into different categories and pick a winner each depending on various parameters. Without waiting more time, here is our final list of top cars to buy under Rs 15 lakh, sorted by price:

Best Cars Under Rs 15 lakh : Small hatchbacks

Name: Renault KWID
Price: Rs 3.02 onwards (on-road, before discounts)
Current Offers: 50% Off on 1st Year Insurance + Rs 15000 Exchange Bonus + 4 Year Warranty on Select Model (November)

Renault Kwid Exterior 132531 2

Launched in September 2015, the KWID has been Renault’s largest selling car in India for several years. SUV inspired design has gone down well with buyers and the car looks upmarket, from a higher segment. There is even a funkier looking version, the CLIMBER. The cabin too excels over rivals when it comes to a premium feel, ditto for class leading features like a touch-screen infotainment interface, full LCD speedometer console, rear arm-rest, rotary knob for gear selector (AMT version) et al. Though the rotary knob does away with a gear lever and hence frees up space, you cannot shift gears manually unlike other AMT cars.

Renault offers the KWID with a choice of two engine options. These include a 800cc and a larger 1000cc motor: the latter is also offered with an optional automatic transmission option. The KWID rides like a mature, much larger hatchback and this ups the comfort quotient by a good margin. Renault has been on their toes to launch limited edition versions and new trim levels every few months and this has kept the KWID fresh in the market. With 8 versions on sale today across a price difference of 2 lakh, this car manages to attract a wide set of buyers and remains our pick in the lower end of the Indian car industry. Icing on the cake comes in the form of the standard warranty that covers the car for 4 years or 1,00,000 km!

Pros:

  • Multiple engine and transmission options
  • Baby SUV looks go down well with buyers
  • Segment leading ride quality
  • Segment first features (rear arm-rest, touch-screen etc)

Cons:

  • Small tank: only 28 litres
  • Huge turning radius of 5m!
  • No visual difference between base and top-end

Sales:
August: 5541
September: 5529
October: 6035

Latest Update: 2018 edition with added features

Best Cars Under Rs 15 lakh: Mid size hatchbacks

Name: Hyundai Santro
Price: Rs 4.44 lakh onwards onwards (on-road, before discounts)
Current Offers: None

Santro 7

Hyundai entered the Indian car market twenty years back with the launch of the Santro. The model was taken off the production lines in 2014 but four years later, it makes a come back and how! The Santro got as many as 30,000 bookings in less than a month of its launch and is it already among the top 10 selling cars in India. Launched from Rs 3.8 lakh onwards, Hyundai aims to set their foot strongly in the small car market and also enjoy a first mover advantage in front of the upcoming all-new WagonR that will be launched in 2019. The new Santro is longer and wider than before and has a new design language that would appeal to a wider customer base. It isn’t as tall as before though and alloy wheels on top spec models are surely missing.

It gets an entirely new cabin that certainly doesnt belong to a small car. It not only offers segment best quality, but a practical no-nonsense cabin with features like a IGNIS lookalike speedometer console, large touch screen interface, retro-modern side air-con vents, rear vents et al. Space is a major highlight here and Hyundai clearly wants to keep their target audience’s families happy. The old 1.1-litre petrol motor makes a comeback but has been revised heavily for increased performance and far lower emission levels : the Santro also offers the most affordable four-cylinder engine in India. That said, it isn’t as efficient as some of the rivals. Available in five versions, Hyundai is also offering their first ever AMT gearbox here on two mid level versions fo Sportz and Magna. There is no doubt that till the new WagonR arrives, this is the car to buy under Rs 6 lakh and ticks all the right boxes for someone looking at a proper mid-size hatchback.

Pros:

  • Best in class cabin design and quality
  • Superior 4-cylinder is very smooth
  • Good mix of ride and handling
  • Segment leading features

Cons:

  • Not as efficient as rivals
  • Conservative styling not to everyone’s liking
  • Expensive higher spec models
  • Missing features (alloy wheels, DRLs, steering adjust, driver seat height adjust etc)

Sales:
October: 8535

Best Cars Under Rs 15 Lakh : Cross Hatchback

Name: Ford Freestyle
Price:
Rs 5.83 lakh onwards (on-road, before discounts)
Discounts: Rs 10K Cash Discount + Dealer End Insurance Benefit at Slight Lower Prices (November)

The cross-hatchback segment in India has multiple options. From the most affordable Celerio X to the top end Hyundai i20 Active. But if there is one car that comes across a great value package while being a true cross-hatch, it has to be the Freestyle. It is intact doing brisk business, selling about 2000 units each month. And why not? The Freestyle looks rugged, rides higher, has ample ground clearance of 190mm and even comes with usable roof rails that can support weight of upto 50 kgs – perfect for carrying cycles for example. On the inside, the Freestyle comes with spacious and a practical cabin though we aren’t a fan of the color theme. That said it scores high on storage areas, has great driver ergonomics and gets among the best touch screen interface for the price band.

The Freestyle comes with a pair of excellent engines. It gets the new 1.2 litre Dragon series engine that puts out impressive figures – 96 PS of power and 120 Nm of torque. No auto option but the 5-speed manual works well in terms of shift quality. The engine itself delivers ample poke and is a delight to drive fast without burning a hole in your pocket in terms of fuel economy. The diesel is the tried and tested 1.5 unit that is also seen in the EcoSport and Aspire and excels in terms of low end torque that is necessary for city driving. Infact, the Freestyle is one of the fastest diesel cars under Rs 8 lakh and given ample performance on tap, is good for your weekend drives too. Complementing the engine is the suspension set-up : this Ford loves being pushed around corners or a set of hills and yet can take you to off beat places.
Overall, for this price, the Freestyle remains a highly recommended cross-hatch in our opinion.

Pros:

  • The rugged design works well
  • Spacious and comfortable interiors
  • Peppy petrol, smooth gear shifts
  • Comfortable and yet agile in terms of handling

Cons:

  • No auto yet
  • Petrol engine nowhere as efficient as rivals

Sales
Aug: 2564
Sep: 2302
Oct: 1929

Best Cars Under Rs 15 Lakh: Premium hatchbacks

Name: Hyundai i20
Price: Rs 6 lakh onwards (on-road, before discounts)
Discounts: Rs 20,000 cash and Rs 30,000 exchange bonus (November)

40444 Hyundai Elite I20 1

A premium hatchback is supposed to offer more space, technologically advanced features, better looks and most importantly, a premium experience that comes from an upmarket cabin, a comfortable ride and classy design. The Elite i20, in our opinion, ticks all these boxes and justifies the word ‘Elite’ properly. Not that the Maruti Baleno isn’t good – but the i20 is just a bit better. Premium hatchbacks are mostly bought by those graduating up from a small car and they do expect a lot!

This is also Hyundai’s largest selling car and got a minor facelift in early 2018 and the top spec model with large alloy wheels does stand out. Step inside and you will continue to be impressed with the quality of materials, far better than that on the Maruti Baleno. And while both cars come feature loaded, the i20 ups the game by providing as many as six airbags, a slide adjustment for front arm-rest, cluster ioniser for the air-con and dual USB ports.

The i20 comes with a choice of a 1.2-litre petrol and a 1.4-litre diesel unit. The petrol offers good low end grunt for city runs though is not as rev happy as say the Baleno. We love the gear shifts from the manual ‘box though Hyundai also offers an optional CVT. The diesel unit is a gem, offering 90 bhp of power and 220Nm of torque. Mated to a 6 speed manual gearbox, it is smooth, has low NVH levels (lower than Baleno and Jazz) and this combined with a mature ride quality makes the i20 diesel an excellent package. It may not be an enthusiast’s car but certainly is a recommended, stylish all-rounder.

Pros:

  • Looks great, especially the top spec models
  • High quality cabin with unique features
  • Excellent diesel engine, is smooth too
  • Hyundai’s proven after sales support

Cons:

  • Still not an enthusiast’s tool
  • Like the Baleno, this one too has limited rear headroom

Sales
August: 11475
September: 12380
October: 13290

Latest update: CVT option launched in May 2018

Best Cars Under Rs 15 lakh: Compact Sedans

Name: Maruti Dzire
Price: Rs 6.2 lakh onwards (on-road, before discounts)
Discounts: Upto 27.5 cash (special edition) and 30,000 exchange bonus (November)

Compact sedan is expected to be larger than your average hatchback and should feel like a big car. More features, a better ride, sense of safety, efficient and all this without give you headaches every few months during scheduled services. This is where Maruti knows the country very well and without any apprehensions, we can clearly say the Dzire is the best compact sedan around.

India’s largest selling sedan, it garners as many numbers as the next four ‘largest selling’ sedans combined together. This has been the most popular sedan from day one of its launch and the latest version has improved massively. It looks better, though still cant be termed as beautiful, has surprisingly good amount of cabin space and comes with an affordable sticker price. We are a fan of how the cabin looks with the black and beige theme, flat bottom steering, round dials and stand out, tab like central unit. The current Dzire is an all-rounder but remember, the sales figures include the commercial model, Tour, that is very popular with Ola and Ubers of the world. Even then, for private use, its a not a bad deal at all.
The Dzire gets two of the most trusted engines from Maruti’s family – the 1.2-litre petrol and 1.3-litre FIAT sourced diesel unit. Both the engines are known for their trouble free performance and Maruti offers optional AMT with both fuel types, a rare offering for the segment. Infact the top spec diesel automatic is a lot cheaper than its main rival, the Amaze diesel auto!
With the current generation Dzire, Maruti has also improved on the ride and handling parameter tremendously. The steering is light, car agile and yet at higher speeds, the Dzire remains composed. Maruti is even offering ABS and dual airbags as standard across the range. If you want a reliable sedan with space and comfort at this price, look no further.

Pros:

  • Spacious, larger than average boot too
  • Highest resale value in the segment
  • Peppy petrol, torquey and efficient diesel
  • Impressive features, auto in both petrol / diesel

Cons:

  • Base L versions is feature stripped
  • Rivals offer better warranty or lower running costs
  • Still has the ‘taxi’ image

Sales
August: 21,990
September: 21,296
October: 17404

Last update: Special edition launched in Aug 2018

Best Cars Under 15 lakh: Compact SUVs

Name: Tata Nexon
Price: Rs 7.12 lakh onwards (on-road before discounts)
Discounts: 1st Year Insurance @ Discounted Price of Rs 13000 + Rs 15K Exchange

Moving on from hatchbacks and sedans, you can even look at purchasing a SUV under Rs 10 lakh and there are quite a few options. But for us, the Nexon stands out. It is the safest SUV you can buy under Rs 10 lakh as per the latest crash test results and importantly, given the rising trend of automatics, offers the AMT with both petrol and diesel under the crucial 10 lakh mark, that too on-road price! That said, we agree, only the lower and mid level of the petrol and diesel models come under this price.

The Nexon itself looks big for a sub 4 meter vehicle, essential to massage to the owner’s ego. It also gets a very spacious cabin and Tata has worked hard to deliver the comfort factor. Drive this vehicle over bad roads and you will be impressed with its composure!
The petrol Nexon comes with a 1.2 litre turbo charged petrol motor that delivers 110 PS of power and is mated to a 6 speed manual gearbox – these figures are on par with say the EcoSport petrol. The diesel unit is larger, being a 1.5 unit with 110 bhp on tap. Infact, in the compact SUV segment, the diesel Nexon is our pick. Whats more, its the only compact SUV to offer an optional AMT with both fuel types. Both the engines get driving modes and though aren’t very smooth, offers reasonably good performance for the heavy Nexon.
With the Nexon, you get to own a good looking large vehicle at a value based price. Tata has ironed out niggles and their cars now come with great after sales support too. The Nexon no doubt makes for a good purchase.

Pros:

  • Looks nice for a compact sub 4m product
  • Space on the inside, comfort levels
  • Drives nice – the modes do work!
  • Safe and solid product from Tata

Cons

  • Petrol engine isn’t as refined
  • Might not be as trouble free as the Breeza in the long run

Sales:
Aug: 4499
Sep: 4297
Oct: 4608

Latest update: Kraz edition launched in Sep 2018

Best Cars Under Rs 15 lakh: MPVs

Name: Maruti Ertiga
Price: Rs 8.39 lakh onwards (on-road)
Discounts: None

New Maruti Ertiga4

Maruti has launched the 2nd generation Ertiga in India. This one surely is the star performer when it comes to a 7 seater MPV under Rs 12 lakh. The new Ertiga really is an all-new product and this is evident from the styling itself. It looks mature and has grown up in size too. We love the bold new face with the raised hood and ditto for the sporty bumper. Step inside and the surprises continue. The cabin design of the Ertiga is excellent and could pass off on a 10-14 lakh rupee sedan too – for example the wooden finish on the fascia and the doors, the classy speedometer console with the TFT screen for the petrol model and the sleek climate control knobs. Maruti says due to the bigger dimensions and pushing of the engine mounting ahead, they have liberated 70mm of extra room for the 3rd row passengers. Further every row gets more shoulder room too.
The Ertiga comes across a feature loaded MPV. Dual Airbags, ABS and parking sensors are standard while the top spec Z+ models get the SmartPlay touchscreen infotainment system as well. The only feature missing here in our opinion is a cruise control. The big news is that the new Ertiga gets the same 1.5 litre petrol motor that debuted in the new Ciaz. Inspite of putting out more power and higher torque, it is more efficient and also comes with an optional automatic.
Thanks to the 5th generation HEARTEC platform, the new Ertiga is stronger and yet retains the same kerb weight. NVH levels have gone down and the new suspension is said to be more comfortable. Without a doubt then, the new Ertiga is the best 7 seater MPV in the price band.

Pros: 

  • New deign looks sleek
  • All-new cabin is excellent in terms of space
  • Feature loaded
  • Efficient automatic petrol

Cons:

  • No diesel automatic
  • Petrol automatic not available in ZXI+
  • Omission of cruise control is a surprise
  • Rs 1.4-Rs 1.5 lakh premium for diesel

Best Cars Under Rs 15 Lakh: Mid-Size sedan

Name: Maruti Ciaz
Price: Rs 9.2 lakh onwards (on-road, before discounts)
Discounts: Rs 10,000 Corporate Discount, upto Rs 15,000 exchange bonus (November)

New Maruti Ciaz4

The mid-size or C sedan market is a very difficult one for manufacturers. Not because of the sheer number of players but because it has two kinds of customers. First are those upgrading from a large hatchback and second are those who are ex-compact sedan owners. So expectations are really and under the important price barrier of Rs 10 lakh, the new Ciaz delivers a lot.

It is the largest selling car in its category and got a major facelift in August. The car wears a sleeker, more premium look and this is due to the new grille, tweaked lamps and LED set up for the lamps. The Ciaz is still the most spacious car in the segment and the new version gets additional kit in the form of faux wooden inserts on the fascia and the doors, cruise control and a new TFT screen in the speedometer console. This is only offered in the petrol line-up and gets new dials for the pods. Looks sporty!
The biggest change however is under the hood. The old 1.4 petrol has been replaced by the 1.5-litre K15B unit that not only offers larger displacement but churns out more power and higher torque. The icing on the cake comes in the form of better fuel economy than ever before, partially due to the Smart Hybrid tech, which is now being offered on the petrol Ciaz as well. The engine comes mated to a choice of transmission options, a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed Auto.
The engine is less powerful than the petrols offered by the Honda City and Hyundai Verna. This said, the real strength of the new motor is in the way it builds up speeds from lower engine speeds and this makes it a great city tool. In fact, in spite of the a 4-speed auto (as compared to 5 or 6 or CVT for rivals), the A/T Ciaz does not feel under-powered, nor does it run out of breath on open roads.
The new K15B engine also performs well when given the stick. While it will not be able to overshadow the Honda City 1.5 petrol or the Hyundai Verna 1.6 petrol, it will keep most owners happy, more so due to its frugal nature.
The Ciaz manages to play the pricing card rather well and with improvements across parameters, this new Maruti seems all set to remain the segment leader for months to come. Mind you, under this price (on-road) you can only pick the base Sigma or one up Delta but the latter does come feature loaded. This includes alloy wheels, cruise control, electrically adjustable outside mirrors, all four power windows, climate control (yes, auto a/c), front and rear arm-rests, ABS and dual airbags.

Pros:

  • Unbeatable cabin space and comfort
  • Minor updates make it look premium and sleek
  • Segment leading fuel economy – new petrol is peppier
  • Most feature loaded C sedan under Rs 10 lakh

Cons:

  • Diesel motor is weak compared to City / Verna
  • No automatic with diesel – surprise for the segment
  • Missing feature – Sunroof, cooled seats, auto wipers etc
  • Ingres / Egress plus limited rear headroom

Sales
August: 7002
September: 6246
October: 3892

Latest update: New Ciaz launched in August 2018

Best Cars under 15 lakhs: 4×4 SUV

Name: Mahindra Thar
Price
: Rs 11.1 lakh (on-road before discounts)
Discounts: Upto Rs 6,000

Recreational vehicles are fast catching up in India and an increasing number of adventure seekers are looking at buying a 4×4 to satisfy their off-road needs. In this regard, though the Gypsy, the Thar comes out on top for us. But let us warn you – if you are looking for a car primarily meant for family use, skip to the next car in the list. The Thar is manufactured for a reason and that is to ferry people in rural markets or to have a reliable workhorse for your farm or estates. Do note that only the Di model is available for under Rs 10 lakh on road and gets an optional 4×4 as well. The CRDe model, the one that looks and feels better is about Rs 11 lakh on-road and highly recommended.
The Thar got a mild facelift a few years back and continues to look good. Truth be told, most buyers invest heavily into making it look better – from bull bars to alloy wheels and even a proper hard top. The cabin looks good for a hardcore 4×4 with classy bits and pieces like dual tone theme, tri-pod instrumentation cluster, cup holders and an overall better feel than the earlier model. You can get an air-con, lockable glovebox, charging outlet and power steering. Even then, at this price, the Thar remains feature stripped but we aren’t complaining as it’d made for a purpose.
The CRDe version comes with a 2.5 litre turbo charged diesel unit that is good for 105 bhp of power and gives the Thar ample torque for off-roading. The low transfer box comes very handy during tricky situations and the mechanically locking rear differential (2015 onwards) has made a world of difference to its abilities. In the right hands, the Thar can take you places!

Pros:

  • Go anywhere capability
  • Torquey diesel, efficient too
  • Support from Mahindra for various events

Cons

  • Still not your daily drive
  • Expensive : the Gypsy is about 4+ lakh cheaper
  • Lacks features for a 11 lakh vehicle

Sales:
August: 669
September: 631
October: 701

Best Cars Under 15 lakhs: AWD (all-wheel drive)

Price: Rs 13.97 lakh onwards (on-road before discounts)
Discounts: Benefits of upto Rs 1,00,000 (November)

renault duster

India’s most affordable AWD vehicle is the Duster. The RxS version, after discounts is just over 13 lakh on-road and highly recommended over the Thar if you won’t be indulging into hard core off-roading. Its far safer, has loads of features, smoother and more efficient. And in the right hands, the Duster AWD can take your places too thanks to a torquey engine, short 1st gear and ample ground clearance.
It is also a very good daily drive thanks to easy controls, spacious interiors and an excellent ride quality. Infact, it offers an unbeatable combination of a perfect family car as well as companion for your Ladakh trip. The only problem with the Duster AWD is long term maintenance with numerous negative reports coming in via online forums. Ditto for the resale value. Even then, we are sure it will keep you as (or more) happy as the Thar.

Pros: 

  • Big car, small price
  • Excellent ride quality
  • Spacious cabin, large boot
  • Most affordable AWD in India

Cons:

  • The design is becoming too old
  • Cabin design remains a sore point
  • Poor resale value

Sales: 

August: 613
September: 616
October: 750

Latest update: Renault slashes Duster’s pricing 

Best Cars Under 15 lakhs: SUV

Name: Hyundai Creta
Price
: Rs 10.84 lakh onwards (on-road before discounts)
Discounts: None

India’s second largest SUV is among a handful of cars that are sold without any discounts. The Creta does come across as a perfect SUV at this price point and there is nothing stopping this from selling over 10-11k units per month. Infact, in terms of revenue generation per month, the Creta is right there on top among all other car models. That speaks volumes about how good this vehicle is.

The 2018 model got design tweaks like a new grille, bumper and those gorgeous alloy wheels. Ditto for minor changes on the inside include feature additions like powered driver’s seat and wireless charging. The cabin design might need a makeover next year but space is excellent, practicality top notch with ample places for knick-knacks and excellent 2nd row space. Boot space is huge and you can push in 3-4 large suitcase as well.

The Creta gets a pair of powerful 1.6 petrol and diesel units and both these offer class leading performance thanks to relatively lower weight of the Creta. You get to opt for an automatic with both the engine options but sadly, a 4×4 is surely missed. Apart from that, the Creta, inspite of being a SUV, is easy to drive and offers more than good ride comfort with excellent dynamics. In all, this price point that is between C and D segment sedans, the Creta is a sure shot winner. Well done Hyundai, well done! Do remember that this list is for cars under Rs 15 lakh (onroad) which means you cannot buy the higher trims or even the diesel AT of the Creta in this budget.

Pros:

  • New 2018 edition looks good
  • Spacious cabin, loaded with features
  • Excellent 1.6 engines, both get A/T option
  • Natural ride and handling, easy to drive

Cons:

  • Getting more expensive with every update
  • No AWD / 4×4
  • Rivals offer 7 seats for same price now

Sales

Aug: 10394
Sep: 11000
Oct: 11702

Latest update: 2018 Creta launched

 


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