With an increasing number of carmakers offering their products in the sub-four-meter segment, it becomes rather difficult to choose one. To solve that we look at the current crop of compact sedans, and see what makes them unique.
Strong point: Turbocharged petrol engine, space, and comfort
With a starting price of Rs 5.03 lakhs, the Zest is the least expensive of the current range of compact sedans. Based on a modified version of the Vista’s platform, the Zest is one of the best products by Tata Motors. What makes it special is the fact that it is the only car in the segment that comes with a turbocharged petrol engine. The 1.2-liter Revotron motor is fairly refined, makes 89 hp and 140 Nm of maximum torque, and also comes with user-selectable drive modes.
But that’s not all. The Zest also offers what most Tatas are good at – ride comfort and space. The Fiat-sourced diesel engine can also be bought with an optional AMT gearbox.
Ford Figo Aspire
Strong point: Quickest diesel engine, looks, and dual-clutch petrol automatic
Based on the same platform as the Figo, the Figo Aspire is the most driver-orientated compact sedan on sale at the moment. It’s also the only car with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox (optional on the 1.5-liter petrol), and certainly the quickest diesel (100PS-producing 1.5-liter unit; does 0-100 in sub 10 seconds) on sale in India in the segment.
Apart from that, it looks nice, and while it might not have a beautiful boot design (none of the cars here have beautiful boots, to be honest!) it has an airy cabin. And it’s a real hoot to drive, too!
Maruti Suzuki Dzire
Strong point: MSIL’s brand value, easy to drive, punchy engine
The Dzire is one of the oldest and well-known brands in the compact sedan segment. Available in both petrol and diesel versions, the Dzire sells about 20,000 units every month. Very popular among the taxi segment, the Dzire offers a punchy engine with consistently good fuel economy. And that’s what attracts most buyers. Its relatively low price and the fact that MSIL sales and service is as wide a network can get, prospective buyers don’t think twice before investing in one.
Strong point: Good cabin, rear AC vent
In terms of starting price, the Xcent is the most expensive compact sedan at the moment. Available in both petrol and diesel options, the Xcent is an easy car to drive and live with. Being a Hyundai, the cabin feels special, while the onboard music system comes with inbuilt storage, too. It also gets a cooled glove box and a rear AC vent.
Strong point: CVT automatic on petrol
The 2016 Honda Amaze continues with the good points from the car originally launched in 2013 but gets updated styling, a better interior, a frugal yet powerful diesel engine, and a CVT gearbox on the petrol unit. The petrol engine is rev-happy, while the handling balance makes the Amaze easy to drive.
Tata Kite 5
Strong point: Class-leading boot space
The Indigo eCS-replacement might not have sounded like the most interesting car, but anyone who’s seen it in the flesh (at the 2016 Auto Expo) will agree that it’s something to look forward to. Engine options will continue to be the same as the Tiago (1.2-liter petrol and 1.05-liter diesel) and AMT will be offered as option. But what will stand out will be the largest boot in the segment, measuring 420 liters.
Strong point: Dual-clutch automatic on diesel, lots of features
Hugely awaited Ameo is so because the features list on it is pretty long. Sharing its platform with the Vento and the Polo, the Ameo sits bang in the middle of these two. Engine options include a 1.2-liter naturally aspirated (not the TSI, sadly) petrol and a 1.5-liter diesel. The latter will be offered with a dual-clutch automatic ‘DSG’ transmission, which is again a segment first on a diesel. And now the features list: cruise control, cornering lamps (static), rear AC vent, Mirrorlink system (an infotainment unit that can replicate whatever’s going on your phone screen on its touchscreen panel), etc. The vehicle also gets dual airbags and ABS as standard. Phew!