Snapshot – If you want to pick a sedan for a rough road, you have to consider two major things. One is of course the ground clearance and the other – often an overlooked figure – is the wheelbase of the sedan in question. There’s a reason that off roaders that aim to clear obstacles come with short wheelbases and high ground clearances. Think, Mahindra Thar. CarToq picks out 5 sedans between 5 and 20 lakh rupees, which dominate their segments when it comes to rough road ability with a mix of high ground clearances and short wheelbases, relatively speaking of course.

Maruti Swift Dzire

The Maruti Suzuki Dzire, the best selling sedan in the country, dominates the sub-4 meter space in terms of bad road handling ability. A class leading 170 mm ground clearance allied to a 2,430 mm wheelbase makes the Dzire the go-to car when it comes to choosing a compact sedan that can hold it own among the moonscape-like potholes and mountain-like speed breakers Indian roads are famous for. The Dzire is sold with petrol and turbo diesel engine options. Prices start from 4.85 lakh rupees.

Chevrolet Sail 

Moving to the entry-level C-segment sedan segment which plays host to cars that are longer than 4 meters but that cost significantly lower than larger C-Segment cars, the Chevrolet Sail sedan emerges as the surprising bad road champion, with a 174 mm ground clearance and a 2,465 mm wheelbase. While the Etios sedan matches the Sail in terms of ground clearance, the former’s longer wheelbase puts it in second place. The Sail is sold with 1.2 liter petrol and 1.3 liter turbo diesel engine options. Prices start at 5.07 lakh rupees.

Maruti Suzuki SX4 and Fiat Linea

The largest number of sedans are found in the full-sized C-Segment space. In this wide range of cars, the Maruti Suzuki SX4 (ZXi/ZDi) leads the field when it comes to featuring the highest ground clearance and the shortest wheelbase of 180 mm and 2,500 mm respectively. However, the Fiat Linea comes a close second with an 185 mm ground clearance and a significantly longer 2,603 mm wheelbase.

Since the SX4’s VXi and VDi variants feature 170 mm ground clearances and 2,500 mm wheelbases, the Fiat Linea holds the joint crown in this segment as a full 15 mm extra ground clearance is too hard to ignore. The SX4 starts at 7.15 lakh rupees while the Linea starts at 6.99 lakh rupees.

Toyota Corolla Altis

The D-Segment pack is led by the Toyota Corolla Altis, with the car featuring a 175 mm ground clearance and relatively short wheelbase of 2,600 mm. The car stands heads and shoulders above other D-Segment offerings but is on its way out as the 11 generation, 2014 model is due for a launch on the 27th of May. The new Corolla Altis gets a 100 mm longer wheelbase, but if the ground clearance is retained at 175 mm, the car will continue to lead the segment in terms of rough road tackling ability. The new Altis is likely to start at 12.5 lakh rupees.

Skoda Superb

With its limousine like stretched looks, many’d be thinking that rough roads aren’t the Superb’s strongest suits. Yes, rough roads aren’t the Superb luxury saloon’s strongest suits, but the car can handle rough roads better than its competition with a class leading 159 mm ground clearance and a 2,761 mm wheelbase. The saloon is sold with turbo petrol and turbo diesel engines, and recently received a facelift. The Superb starts at 19 lakh rupees and Skoda offers the car with a rough road package as well.


  1. I think approach, break over & departure angles are appropriate indicators rather than a speculative approach based on the combination of GC & wheelbase figures. For sedans (and average drivers) that won’t go off roading Ground Clearance is ideally the single most important factor, while an engine sump guard is the second most important one. There are enough & more cases of people having to cough up repair bills worth more than half the vehicle price since a cracked oil sump is rejected under warranty as well as insurance. Regards.

  2. I very much agree with Amit as saloon, hatchbacks, small & sedan cars are actually not designed & made for bad roads but for normal city & highway diving & not all various makes of cars come with an under engine protection guard!! For bad roads in the sense OFF-ROADING, a vehicle has to be appropriately designed & modified accordingly as well be well equipped for any worst case scenarios especially under carriage protection for the engine oil pan as well as for the transmission case! Whether the car is or not in the warranty period any damage to the engine oil pan or the transmission case the damage claim, will never ever be entertained by any insurance companies as they will consider it a consequential damage, & then it’s a very very painful expense for the vehicle owner in the long run!!

  3. Then again BAD ROADS as termed & mentioned, up to a certain limit can saloons, sedans, hatchbacks & small cars take the toll as they have their own technical limitations for the prescribed road driving application, wear & tear will be in all aspects if the vehicle owner continues to drive upon the prescribed road conditons?!! The same goes for SUV’s too !!

Comments are closed.