Diesel is more the rule than the exception these days. Of every five cars being sold in the premium hatchback segment, nearly four are diesel! However, the cars that are selling are not the only ones that are the best fuel-efficient diesels in the hatchback and premium hatchback segment. There are cars that are more fuel efficient, but just don’t sell or get recommended for a variety of reasons.
There are at least four premium hatchbacks that are as fuel efficient or even more than the best-sellers in the segment, the top three best-sellers being the Maruti Swift, Hyundai i20 and the Tata Vista.
The Nissan Micra is one of the most fuel-efficient diesel cars around, with a rated fuel efficiency of 23 kmpl. The car is powered by a 1.5 litre diesel engine putting out 63 bhp of power and 160 Nm of torque with a five-speed manual transmission. The top-end Micra XV Premium diesel is loaded with features that include full keyless entry, push-button ignition, and power folding mirrors. The cabin is spacious for four adults, while the fifth passenger too won’t be too uncomfortable. It also has a 251 litre boot. The car is good to drive, with relatively no turbo lag compared to the other diesel cars.
Why then is the Micra selling in miniscule numbers? The car sold 849 in November, down from 1,549 in September. There are some perception issues with the car. It is cheaper than the Maruti Swift ZDI by Rs. 40,000, but it’s not seen as powerful enough. The second issue is the service – Nissan’s network is still not strong enough or vast enough. The third issue is the lack of ABS in the top-end variant, a feature that the Swift has. Also read: Nissan Micra diesel road test
The Renault Pulse is the Micra’s better looking cousin. It is a badge-engineered Micra and has managed to add a dash of sportiness to the Micra’s bland looks. Dimensions of the car are identical to the Micra, while the feature list too is the same. The car has better looking alloys, redesigned grille, bumper, headlights and tail-lamps.
The Pulse sells far lower than the Micra too, selling about 400-500 cars a month, adding to the incremental sales numbers for the Renault-Nissan alliance, but not making a mark on its own. The Pulse initially launched in diesel only to cash in on the diesel demand, with the same 1.5 litre K9K diesel engine putting out 63 bhp of power. Being dimensionally identically to the Micra, it has equal space. The reason for it not selling too is identical to the Micra. Also see: Renault Pulse features and photo gallery
The Tata Vista is selling in decent numbers, but because Tata reports sales of the Indica and the Indica Vista together, it’s hard to tell if its sales are higher than the Indica. Together the Indica and Indica Vista are the third largest-selling brand of premium hatchback after the Swift and i20.
The Vista features the same 1.3 Fiat-sourced multijet diesel engine that the Maruti Swift uses. This engine is also used in the Maruti Ritz, Fiat Punto, and a version of it is now in the new Chevrolet Sail U-Va. The Vista Quadrajet puts out 75 bhp of power, while one variant was recently launched with a 90bhp version as well, rivalling the Punto Sports 90HP. It has a rated fuel efficiency of 19 to 22 kmpl.
The Vista is not that great a seller, despite being cheaper than the Swift and i20, because of its looks and image. And the Tata service network has issues as well – not all dealers provide great quality of service. Also see: Tata Vista diesel road test
The Skoda Fabia is a car that is highly underrated. It is one of the most spacious premium hatchbacks, with good interior passenger space and a spacious boot of 300 litres. The car is powered by a 1.2 litre diesel engine – the same engine as the Volkswagen Polo. The car is decently feature loaded as well, features include climate control, power mirrors and an integrated music system, as well as AC vents under the front seats to cool the rear. .
However, the downside of the Fabia is its pricing. It is a bit too highly priced compared to the segment leaders, with the top-end Fabia Elegance priced at Rs. 7.43 lakh. And there’s the Fabia Scout which has some cladding added to give it a more macho look priced at Rs. 8.13 lakh. The Fabia is a good car for those looking for a classy hatchback with plenty of space, but it is pricey. No wonder it sold just 133 cars in November.