Anyone with a fairly deep pocket can visit a new car dealership these days and get himself a fast car, but sadly not everyone’s born with a silver spoon in his/her mouth. But that shouldn’t take away the driving fun from any one of us. We took a look at popular car classifieds to see if there’s anything that could satiate the enthusiast within without having to disintegrate the (already weak) financial system.
With a budget of around Rs 10 lakhs, and the desire to cover ground in a fast yet safe way, we started looking at cars that cost twice or thrice our budget when new, starting with the arguably the most exclusive one out there:
Maruti Suzuki Kizashi
Before Aam Aadmi became a political phenomenon (or a bait, whichever way you look at it), Maruti Udyog used to make cars that ‘Aam Aadmis’ would run. And an aam aadmi certainly cannot afford a car that costs almost Rs 20 lakhs. Kizashi, a well respected (for what it was) product, saw its price reach the stratosphere, thanks to the vehicle being imported and not manufactured here. Whether the latter was a viable option is something that remains unanswered, given the company is still trying its hand with the premium market.
And hence it couldn’t make a mark in the market, which, on the bright side, makes finding one below Rs 10 lakhs very easy. The caveat here is that there aren’t too many of Kizashis around, so if you want one, find the right one, and buy it!
The car, powered by a 176hp producing 2.4-litre petrol engine (another reason why it didn’t work in India) came with manual as standard while a slightly more expensive CVT automatic gearbox version was available too. The latter is sluggish and should be avoided, while the former – a 6-speed unit- is a treat to use, not exactly in a ‘click-clack’ way but it’s smooth and slots in perfectly.
The car could was claimed to do around 200kmph, which, obviously isn’t legal or safe to do on public roads, but that just gives an indication of what the vehicle was capable of. A well kept example should cost somewhere between Rs 7 and Rs 10 lakh. And with MSIL’s widespread network, keeping one in great shape won’t be an issue, either.
Used Suzuki Kizashi price range: Rs 7 lakh and Rs 10 lakh.
Priced close to the Kizashi but with way more success in the market, the Laura was once Skoda’s number gainer. It was basically a new generation Octavia but since Skoda continued to sell the old Octavia alongside, the new name brought some distinction.
Two generations of Skoda Laura came to India. And like the Kizashi, these too had a front-wheel drive architecture, which did limit the car’s potential a bit, but Skoda somehow made the best handling front-wheel drive car in the segment.
The second generation Laura also got the fabled ‘RS’ variant, but sadly unlike the Octavia RS sold globally, the car in India had to do with the ‘regular’ 1.8-litre TSI engine. It was no slouch, and the bodykit might have not made it any quicker, the exclusivity that came with the RS badge is still something owners long for.
Skoda isn’t known for its service or affordable parts, because both don’t really exist. Service is said to have improved and while spares aren’t exactly cheap, the build quality and fit and finish is second to none.
Used Skoda Laura price range: Rs 6 lakh and Rs 10 lakh.
V6 or not, Honda Accord was the go-to car for those who wanted to reach business meetings quick. The car wasn’t really made to be driven on a race-track, but with a reliable, adequately powerful engine, and comfortable suspension setup, it can still shame cars twice its price.
Well maintained but two generations old 3-litre V6 models can be had from as low as Rs 3 lakhs and the previous generation’s 3.5-litre V6 is still pricey, but the the 2.4-litre i-VTEC guise falls in our budget. That might not be as quick as the V6 but it’s decently rapid. It has a lot of space inside, so doing long road trips won’t be an issue. And with a good 180PS under the hood, you won’t really require more power than that for everyday power driving (is that even a thing?).
Both automatic (with paddle shifters) and manual transmission versions are available, and if you enjoy driving, choose the latter as it gives you more control. Want a Japanese barge? This is it!
Used Honda Accord price range: Rs 5.5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh.
Now we’re talking. How can we conclude a list of fun-to-drive cars and not include an RWD version! If one could generalise the concept of fun-to-drive sedan/saloon, then the BMW 3-Series is likely to be sitting on top. The car in question here is the circa-2008/2009 E90 3er. A facelift in 2009 brought some minute changes, and made the car look sharper and meaner – essentially how BMWs should look.
While diesel vehicles are great to drive now, but nothing beats high revving petrol engines if we’re particularly looking at the ‘fun’ part of it. So let’s leave the 320d aside, and focus instead on the 325i. The engine was a straight six petrol unit, and before the arrival of the more expensive (and exclusive) 330i, the 325i was the new model to go for. And it still is.
In comparison to the above mentioned cars, BMWs are a little bit more expensive to maintain. And since there’s a good amount of power and well-sorted (for driving) chassis, the cars could be driven hard in their past, so buying one with full service history is the best way out.
Stay away if you’re looking for ride comfort, but if you’re looking for something to satiate the race-car driver within, this is certainly the car to have. And better yet, it’s the only car here that can be taken to racetracks, and fettled by experts, it can be turned into something that car five times its cost (used car price, that is) won’t be able to manage.
Used BMW 325i price range: Rs 8 lakh and Rs 10 lakh.
What could possibly trump a BMW 3-series in that budget, you may ask. A larger, more powerful car, maybe. Well, yes, and that’s what the Audi A6 is. It has more space, comes with quattro AWD system, and among all the cars here, makes the best entry, especially if you attend 5-star events a lot.
The 3-litre TFSI came with a mild facelift and when Audi decided to downsize its engines a little, back in the last decade. The 3-litre supercharged engine’s output was just a tenner under 300hp and a smidgen above 400Nm.
The ‘quattro’ AWD system added to the stability of the car, and is certainly the quickest and safest (in terms of grip, especially in less than perfect grip levels) way to cover ground. And all of it under Rs 10 lakhs, if that’s not a steal, then what is?
Used Audi A6 price range: Rs 9 lakh and Rs 10 lakh.