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Hyundai Santro to Maruti Swift: Most affordable 4-cylinder cars in India

Most affordable small cars in India are offered with a three cylinder engine to keep costs low. However, such a set-up suffers from unwanted vibrations and the overall NVH or noise, vibration and harshness levels are not a match to a conventional four cylinder engine. In this aspect, which are the most affordable cars out there in the market that are powered by a traditional four pot motor? Lets have a look:

Hyundai Santro

Price: Rs 3.9 lakh onwards
Engine specs: 1086cc / 68 bhp / 99Nm
ARAI rated economy: 20.3 kmpl

Hyundai Santro to Maruti Swift: Most affordable 4-cylinder cars in India

The new Santro is the most affordable four cylinder engine equipped car you can buy in India. Hyundai continues to use the good old 1.1-litre unit but has tuned this further to make sure it meets the emission norms while still being frugal enough. The engine is paired to a 5-speed manual with an optional 5-speed AMT in the offering as well. Hyundai has played the pricing card pretty well and those looking at a no frills car (without air-con) will love the Santro for the value it offers.

Maruti Ignis

Price: Rs 4.67 lakh onwards
Engine specs: 1197cc / 82 bhp / 113 Nm
ARAI rated economy: 20.89 kmpl

Hyundai Santro to Maruti Swift: Most affordable 4-cylinder cars in India

Surprised? The mid-size hatchback Ignis the second most affordable car to offer a four cylinder engine in India. It even beats its own (new) sibling in terms of pricing, the WagonR 1.2! Though sales are down, the light weight Ignis gives you a peppy drive and can be had with an optional AMT gearbox too. We like the funky and unconventional design and even the cabin is spacious for a car that looks small from the outside.

Maruti WagonR 1.2

Price: Rs 4.89 lakh onwards
Engine specs: 1197cc / 82 bhp / 113 Nm
ARAI rated economy: 21.5 kmpl

Hyundai Santro to Maruti Swift: Most affordable 4-cylinder cars in India

The new WagonR is offered with an optional 1.2-litre motor, the same unit that powers the Ignis, Swift and the Dzire. This four cylinder engine gives it a clear edge in front of its arch rival, the Santro. Infact, the new fifth generation Heartec platform makes the WagonR a light weight car and this along with power (and torque) make it a very enjoyable car in all kind of driving conditions. An optional AMT is offered as well and the WagonR 1.2 is the most efficient car here.

Hyundai Grand i10

Price: Rs 4.91 lakh onwards
Engine specs: 1197cc / 82 bhp / 114 Nm
ARAI rated economy: 18.9 kmpl

Hyundai Santro to Maruti Swift: Most affordable 4-cylinder cars in India

The Grand i10 has been a success for Hyundai and is among the top 10 selling cars in India on a monthly basis. It gets the tried and tested 1.2-litre petrol unit that also powers the Elite i20, i20 Active and the Xcent. It is also the only car here to be offered with an optional torque converter automatic and not a low cost AMT unit. Power and torque figures are similar to the Maruti offerings though fuel economy is the lowest among all cars mentioned here.

Maruti Swift

Price: Rs 4.99 lakh onwards
Engine specs: 1197cc / 82 bhp / 113 Nm
ARAI rated economy: 22 kmpl

Hyundai Santro to Maruti Swift: Most affordable 4-cylinder cars in India

And finally the Swift. It uses the tried and tested K12 engine and thanks to its light weight architecture and steering set-up, is the most fun to drive car here. Surprisingly, it is more efficient than the cheaper WagonR as per ARAI certification. The Swift is also the most popular car here, being in the top 3 selling cars on a monthly basis and like most other Maruti offerings, comes with an optional AMT gearbox.

Benefits of a four cylinder engine

As mentioned above, the overall NVH (noise, vibrations, harshness) levels of such an engine are far better than a three cylinder unit. That’s because a normal internal combustion engine is a four stroke cycle – intake, compression, combustion and exhaust (suck, squeeze, bang, blow).

So at any point in time in a four-cylinder engine, there is one cylinder that is always on the power stroke (combustion) in the cycle. In a three-cylinder engine there is a difference in the way the pistons are arranged on the crankshaft, which leads to a delay of half a cycle between power strokes.

In a three-cylinder engine a power stroke happens after every 120 degree rotation of the crankshaft, while in a four-cylinder engine it happens with every 90 degree rotation of the crankshaft (for one full 360 degree rotation of the flywheel).

This shows up as a slight gap in the firing time, and hence a rougher engine note (on a three cylinder unit). If you crank up a car like the Datsun Go or the new WagonR 1.1 version, you will experience vibs from the gear lever and the foot well area. Rev the car hard and the typical 3 cylinder hum is also audible. All this is missing in a four cylinder set-up.