The sheer number of models on sale in the Indian car industry means that even under Rs 5 lakh (on-road price), new car buyers can pick from over a dozen options ranging across two body types of hatchbacks and MPVs or multi-purpose vehicles. Customers can also opt from two fuel types of petrol and CNG. Those looking at an automatic transmission vehicle will not be disappointed either.
Given the affordable price, three of the cars discussed below feature among the top 10 selling car in India on a regular basis. Interestingly, all these are under the Maruti brand name and also come with year long discounts and schemes to lure customers. Small and affordable cars remain very popular with first time car buyers as well as customers in smaller towns. This is also the reason why manufacturers are launching facelifts of their small offerings to maintain their market share – case in the new Datsun Go / Go Plus, the all-new Hyundai Santro and the upcoming new generation Maruti Wagon R.
Easy to drive and cheap to run and maintain, lets have a look at some of the best cars under Rs 5 lakh:
Best car under Rs 5 lakh : Number 5
Name: Datsun Go
Price: Rs 3.68 – Rs 5.42 lakh (on-road, without discounts)
Current Offers: None
Datsun recently rolled out a heavily revised version of the Go hatchback with improvements done across all parameters. The car indeed has improved massively and retails for less as compared to the outgoing model. This includes dual airbags, ABS and rear parking sensors being standard across all versions – a segment first. The Datsun Go looks much better on the outside with revisions done to both bumpers, new DRLs and inclusion of alloy wheels. The wheel size itself has gone up by an inch.
And there are even more changes on the inside – the entire cabin is redesigned and looks nice for a Rs 4 lakh car. The hand brake level is also back to its conventional position and you finally get a proper glovebox with a cover. Higher trims also get a segment leading touch screen interface that sounds good and works well to inputs. Space up front is nice though at the back, cars like the Santro fare better. The slightly more expensive Go Plus gets a unique 3rd row which is best suited for kids but useful nonetheless.
We like the way the Go drives and the reason for this is the 1198cc engine : this is bigger than all other rivals in the price band and similar in capacity to the Tata Tiago. Sadly, no optional AMT is offered and the engine is about 15-20% less efficient than other cars.
The Go comes with a 5 year warranty set-up and 2 years of ’Datsun Care‘ comprehensive all-inclusive car service package that offers peace of mind to customers.
- Looks great for a small car
- Feature on offer : dual airbags, ABS standard
- Powerful engine
- Revised cabin looks upmarket
- High speed manners
- Engine gets rough / vibey at higher revs
- Limited network, brand appeal
- Not as efficient as rivals, no auto option
July 2018: 300
August 2018: 490
September 2018: 597
Latest update: Launch of new Go model in September 2018
Best car under Rs 5 lakh: Number 4
Name: Maruti Alto 800
Price: Rs 2.87 – Rs 4.23 lakh (on-road, before discounts)
Current Offers: Upto Rs 30000 cash, upto Rs 30000 exchange bonus (November)
Launched in 2000 as the replacement for the good old Maruti 800, the Alto is India’s most affordable car (Tata Nano’s production has been halted) and the largest selling car in small towns and rural markets. Maruti has sold 35 lakh (yes, 35,00,000) Altos since its launch in the Indian car market. There is no denying the fact that the Alto 800 is a car for the masses! Bullet proof reliability, low running costs and ease of driving is that the little Alto offers. Powered by a 800cc engine and mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox, the Alto 800 offers surprisingly brisk performance for city runs. Maruti also offers a company fitted CNG kit for even lower running costs.
The cabin, though not as spacious as the Nano, offers a clean design with durable materials. Higher spec models offer integrated audio system, front power windows, keyless entry and a driver side airbag is optional across all trim levels. You can even personalise the car with accessories online and get the same delivered via your nearest showroom.
At this price, the Alto 800 offers an unbeatable package. Its long in the tooth but is still winning thousands of hearts across India each month.
- Value for money, factory fitted CNG option
- Driver airbag optional across all versions
- Light controls make it easy to drive
- Efficient and cheap maintenance cost
- Not a good highway companion
- Not as spacious as say the Nano or redi-GO
- Average road presence
Sales (not available as figures are clubbed with Alto K10)
Latest update: Alto Utsav edition launched in October 2017
Best car under Rs 5 lakh : Number 3
Name: Renault KWID
Price: Rs 3.02 – Rs 5.16 lakh (on-road, before discounts)
Current Offers: 50% Off on 1st Year Insurance + Rs 15000 Exchange Bonus + 4 Year Warranty on Select Model (November)
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. 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.
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 with a unique rotary knob that is used for changing modes from P (parking) to D (drive) or R (reverse). As there is no gear lever, it frees up space on the inside as well. 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.
- 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)
- Small tank: only 28 litres
- Huge turning radius of 5m!
- No visual difference between base and top-end
- Lowering market demand = poor re-sale
Milestone: 10719 units in August 2016
Latest Update: August 2018 : 2018 edition with added features
Best car under Rs 5 lakh : Number 2 : Tata Tiago
Name: Tata Tiago
Price: Rs 3.79 – Rs 7.02 lakh (on-road, before discounts)
Current Offers: 1st Year Insurance @ Rs 7400 + Rs 10K Exchange (November)
The Tiago makes up for almost 50% of the total passenger car sales for Tata Motors. Priced just above small entry level hatchbacks, the Tiago offers you more bang for your buck than any other similarly priced model. And we aren’t just talking about the design that looks upmarket but the interiors that would look at home on a Rs 6 lakh hatchback! Available in no less than 12 versions, 2 engine and 2 transmission options, the Tiago comes feature packed including multiple safety aids. It even has the best audio quality from the infotainment system and gets a detailed driver information display.
And then there is supple ride quality that betters most rivals. Drive this car over bad city roads and you will come back with a smile on your face. It also scores over others in terms top notch driving dynamics, good city handling and excellent brakes. The 1.05 diesel and 1.2 petrol engines put out more than ample performance for the segment, while delivering excellent fuel economy figures. That said, both the engines, specially the diesel, have average NVH (noise, vibrations, harshness) levels. Though not under Rs 5 lakh, Tata Motors launched two new versions recently. These include the cross-over NRG and the performance oriented JTP model, thus catering to a wider audience.
- Interior design and quality
- Ride and handling package
- No of variants on offer
- Powerful and efficient engine options
- Petrol engine not as smooth as rivals
- Tata’s small cars are known for long term niggles
- Rear headroom isn’t impressive
- Rivals have better resale value
Milestone: 9277 units in August 2018
Best car under Rs 5 lakh : Number 1 : Hyundai Santro
Name: Hyundai Santro
Price: Rs 4.44 – Rs 6.31 lakh (on-road, before discounts)
Current Offers: None
The Santro brand name has made a come back after four years. This time around, its an all-new product and has almost no resemblance with the model that was discontinued in 2014. 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. 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. 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. 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 5 lakh.
- Best in class cabin design and quality
- Superior 4-cylinder is very smooth
- Good mix of ride and handling
- Segment leading features
- 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)