If you are in the market for a new car and have a limited budget of Rs 5 lakh, you sill have ample options ranging from the most affordable Alto 800 to the most expensive but all-rounder Celerio.
We have not included the Tata Nano in the list as production has come to a halt. That aside, you can pick from 10 different hatchbacks. All of these come with a petrol engine with the Tiago being the only one to offer a diesel option. AMT or automatic transmission is offered in three models (under Rs 5 lakh on-road) and given rising competition, all the cars are feature packed. Lets have a deeper look into each model – note that the listing below is sorted by price.
1) Cars under Rs 5 lakh : Alto 800
Price: Rs 2.87 lakh onwards (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 then 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
2) Cars under Rs 5 lakh: Datsun redi-GO
Price: Rs 2.83 lakh onwards (on-road, before discounts)
Discounts: 1st Year Insurance + 2 Gram Gold Coin + Rs 12K Exchange Benefits + 3 Year Road Side Assistance (November)
Apart from being the most affordable Japanese product, the redi-GO is also the most affordable automatic car and is available in two versions of T(O) and S. At an on road price of under Rs 4.3 lakh (considering the discounts), the redi-GO AMT offers shattering value for money considering the features it comes equipped this. This includes power steering, air-con with heater, drive computer, audio system with Bluetooth connectivity, driver side airbag, front power windows, keyless entry etc.
The redi-GO looks pretty nice for a small car and with generous dimensions, manages to stand out in the crowd of hatchbacks on the road. It even gets slim DRLs or day time running lights up front! While the manual version comes with both 800cc and 1000cc engines, the AMT gets the latter. Its good for 68 PS of power and 91 Nm of torque and has a rated fuel economy of 22.5 kmpl. We like the way this AMT set-up works and this combined with a light steering and high seating makes this a very sorted urban car. It gets a creep function which allows the car to move ahead by releasing the brake – very useful for slow moving traffic. As expected, you can also take over the automated shifts by shifting the lever to the left while in D mode.
On the inside, the redi-GO gets an all black color theme that is broken well by silver inserts at places. Practical points include open space above the glove box, under the air-con and multiple cup holders. That said, all four doors do not offer any storage space at all. However Datsun claims the redi-GO has the roomiest interiors for the segment. Overall, the redi-GO is a very good automatic urban car that can handle the occasional highway duties too.
- Most affordable automatic
- Modern interiors
- Easy urban car (tall seating, good visibility, light steering)
- Peppy and fuel efficient
- High speed manners
- Interior fit and finish
- Limited network, poor resale value
- Cost cutting evident (single front wiper, non retractable belts)
Latest update: Limited edition model launched in Sep 2018
3) Cars under Rs 5 lakh: 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)
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. 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. The KWID is indeed one of the best small cars in India today.
- 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: 2018 edition with added features
4)Cars under Rs 5 lakh: Datsun Go
Price: Rs 3.68 lakh onwards (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. And there are even more changes on the inside – the entire cabin is redesigned and looks nice for a Rs 4 lakh car and the hand brake lever is back to the normal position. 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 Go Plus also offers a unique 3rd row of seats that can take in kids with ease.
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
5) Cars under Rs 5 lakh: Maruti Alto K10
Price: Rs 3.71 lakh onwards (on-road, without discounts)
Discounts: Upto Rs 20,000 cash and upto Rs 35,000 exchange bonus (November)
Maruti’s most affordable automatic car is the Alto K10. This current generation K10 got a major facelift in 2014 and even four years down the line, looks fresh and appealing for this price. Not as tall as the KWID or the redi-GO, but in smaller towns, the K10 is quite popular. The AMT version gets the same 1.0-litre three cylinder engine as the MT one. This one puts out 67 PS of power and 90 Nm of torque, more or less similar to that of the other two cars in the same price band. However, it feels a tad smoother at idle and on the move. The AMT too seems to have been calibrated better here in the K10, making it perform the best here. Fuel economy too is similar to the other cars.
The cabin of the Alto K10 is a weak point. It isn’t as modern as the rivals and the AMT gear lever takes up a lot of space which means this version comes without cup holders up front – storage space is lacking here.
In terms of space, the Alto K10 cannot match up to the rivals either. Likewise, the AMT is available in one version only and this comes without features like front fog lamps, keyless entry, body coloured outside mirrors and even side moulding. ABS too is missing. This is one area where the rivals score higher points. The only point going in favour of the Alto K10 is Maruti’s widespread network and long term peace of mind factor.
- Peppy and efficient
- Peace of mind, resale value
- AMT works better than rivals
- Best high speed manners here
- Cabin design is outdated
- No storage space due to AMT lever console
- Limited cabin design
- Missing features (fog lamps, keyless entry etc)
Sales : N/A (not available separately, is always combined with Alto 800)
Latest update: Alto K10 Plus launched in March 2017
6) Cars under Rs 5 lakh: Hyundai Eon
Price: Rs 3.71 lakh onwards (on-road, before discounts)
Current Offers: Rs 45K Cash + 10K Exchange Bonus (November)
A flat cash discount of 45,000 makes the Eon an irresistible purchase in the segment. It continues to look cute and charming in a way with the angular bumper, huge headlamps and even roof rails! The cabin design is still one of the best in the price band. Well laid out with high quality materials, the dual tone theme is broken well with the massive central console with silver inserts. That said, space is not in the league of other spacious small cars like the redi-GO but has practical touches like ample storage spaces, generous front door pads, open space above the dashboard and even a 15.75cm touchscreen interface with phone link. It even features a tilt adjustable steering which its expensive sibling, the Santro does not.
The Eon comes with both 800cc and 1000cc engine options. The latter is recommended as it provides ample performance to match the big car feel of the Eon and even fuel economy is satisfactory. Hyundai also offers a factory fitted LPG option, a rare find in this segment of cars. Sadly, unlike rivals, Hyundai is not offering an optional automatic with this car and even the driver informational display is basic. The ride quality is impressive and the car feels like a much larger hatchback on the move. No agile handler this but does the job of a small family car. Light steering, easy clutch and good visibility works well. Hyundai is also offering 3 years of warranty (for 1,00,000km) along with 3 years of roadside assistance.
- Looks great even 7 years of launch
- Modern interiors, well laid out
- Comfortable ride quality
- Unique LPG option
- No automatic option
- Limited passenger space inside
- Low demand means poor resale value
- Missing features: driver info display, alloy wheels, dual airbags, ABS
Latest update: Sports edition launched in April 2017
7) Cars under Rs 5 lakh: Hyundai Santro
Price: Rs 4.44 lakh onwards onwards (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)
8) Cars under Rs 5 lakh: Tata Tiago
Price: Rs 3.79 lakh onwards (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.
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. 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
9) Cars under Rs 5 lakh: Maruti WagonR
Price: Rs 4.63 lakh onwards (on-road before discounts)
Discounts: Upto Rs 40,000 cash and upto Rs 35,000 exchange bonus (November)
One of the oldest brand names on sale in the segment is still enjoying massive popularity. The tall boy WagonR is the second largest selling car under Rs 5 lakh in India and though the all-new model is due for a launch next year, the current one continues to sell well, thanks to massive discounts. The design has aged well and frankly, this is not a good looking hatchback. The top end model (earlier known as StingRay) does look far better with a bolder stance, projector lamps, gunmetal grey alloy wheels and a little body kit.
The car surely is practical and this is evident the moment you step inside the car. Not only is Ingress and egress good, you get a feeling of space. Dashboard design is not beginning to feel a bit old but the new limited edition brings in a fresh air. Stylish seat covers, styling kit with wooden finish and a double DIN audio system do help a bit. Comfort is good if not excellent though the car lacks features like a digital display for speedometer console, touchscreen interface or rear air-con vents. The WagonR gets a 1.0-litre petrol unit with both MT and AMT options along with a factory fitted CNG kit – this makes it very popular in the commercial segment. The engine itself is peppy, efficient and reliable.
- Value for money
- Factory fitted CNG, AMT option
- Fuss free and easy to drive
- Proven product, reliable in the long run
- All-new model is due early next year
- Lacks features that rivals offer
- Design is certainly not attractive anymore
- Interiors now feel dated for the price
Latest update: Limited edition launched in October 2018
10) Cars under Rs 5 lakh: Maruti Celerio
Price: Rs 4.66 lakh onwards (on-road, without discounts)
Discounts: Upto Rs 35,000 cash, upto Rs 30000 exchange bonus (November)
And finally the Celerio, the fourth Maruti in this list. Priced similar to the WagonR, it offers a slightly better cabin, a more comfortable ride quality and a cross version called the ‘Celerio X’. Not many know but this car is way more efficient than similarly priced cars like the new Hyundai Santro and Datsun Go / Go Plus. It uses the tried and tested 1000cc K10B motor that also powers the Alto K10 and WagonR. This hatchback is sold in both manual and automatic gearbox options with safety features like dual airbags and ABS in the higher versions. It even gets a steering height adjust which more expensive cars like the Santro lack!
We like the way the Celerio looks : it has aged well and continues to sell in great numbers. The drive is easy and thanks to a lower height, centre of gravity is lower which in turn makes this stable in terms of handling. A total of 12 different versions are on offer including two powered by factory fitted CNG kits. Maruti even sells a dedicated low cost model for the commercial market under the name of Celerio H2.
- Well packaged cabin : good space and practical
- Maruti’s excellent network and peace of mind
- Higher discounts and offers in the market
- Features on offer : alloy wheels, dual airbags, steering adjust etc
- Pricier than other options here
- Brand image : lot of Celerios on road with a commercial plate
Latest update: Celerio H2 Tour launched in Feb 2018