It ultimately boils down to the fuel efficiency. Price and fuel efficiency are undoubtedly the most important things when it comes to making the choice for automobiles for the majority of us Indians. We have come out with a list of the ten most fuel efficient petrol hatchbacks in India and have taken the figure supplied by the Automotive Research Association of India to help us come up with the list. Out of the cars it is not a surprise that 5 are Maruti Suzuki’s and that’s a testament to how well Maruti understands the Indian market. They are catering perfectly to our needs andHyundai , the second largest passenger car manufacturer in India comes in seconds with 3 entries. Tata has one and so does Chevrolet.
Tata previously advertised the Nano as the cheapest car in India. The Nano still is the cheapest car in the country but the promotion and marketing around the hatch now is centred on the fact that the Nano also is the most fuel efficient car in India. The Nano comes with an ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of 25.4kmpl which makes it the most fuel efficient petro hatch in the country. Sales for the Nano have remained low and this is a surprise considering that it is the cheapest and most fuel efficient car in India. Tata had earlier this year given the Nano a facelift with changes to the exteriors, interiors and also to the mechanicals. Prices for the Nano now start from Rs1,64 to Rs2,25 lakh ex-showroom New Delhi.
The Nano now comes in 10 different colours including Papaya Orange and Rouge Red and the only other changes were the addition of the passenger side rear view mirror and the plastic wheel caps for the top of the line LX model. Rest of the styling is the same as when the Nano was first launched with the smiley face and the vertical tail-lights. Changes made to the interiors earlier this year include a beige dashboard and seat fabric, a silver centre console and the seat headrests can be now be adjusted. Tata claims that with the alterations made to the aircon the Nano now boasts of the best air con in its class.
The Nano uses a 624cc, 2 cylinder, all aluminium petrol engine which now produces 38PS compared to the 35PS is produced at the time of its launch. Torque has improved a bit too and the 100kmph is reached in 27.38seconds. The engine is matched to a 4 speed manual gearbox and the tall gearing results in 25.4kmpl. The engine has a single overhead cam with two-valve per cylinder. The hatch uses anti-roll bar in front with independent rear semi- trailing arms. The hatch has a combination of a monocoque chassis and space frame with a ground clearance of 180mm.
Maruti Suzuki Alto
The first Maruti to feature in our list is the 2012 Alto. The 2012 Alto is perhaps the most important car from Maruti since the original Swift was launched and with an ARAI claimed 22.7kmpl the Alto is also the second most fuel efficient petrol hatch in the country. The new Alto is also Maruti ’s response to the Hyundai Eon and though Maruti remains the largest selling passenger car manufacturer in India, it has never been more threatened. The new Alto has been designed and engineered specifically for the Indian customers and prices start from Rs 2.71lakhs to Rs 3.30 lakhs ex-showroom New Delhi.
The exteriors are completely new and the Alto gets curvier with a new set of petal shaped head lamps black detailing on the inside and the front bumper too is completely new and has an all-black air-dam. The Alto has a cab forward design and the two part grille is new too. The wheel arches are a bit more flared and the rear tail lamps have a bit of similarity to the A-star. The Alto now looks more contemporary and the interior gets a new dash with a three spoke steering wheel. The interior styling is basic and the instrument panel has a large speedometer. The central console has a ‘V’ shape, plastic quality has improved and the top of the line LXi variant gets a driver airbag with ABS as optional. The hatch is wider and taller and while the front passengers get good space, the rear passengers aren’t as lucky.
The bulk of the changes were made to the engine and the Alto instead of using the new K-series engine retains the F8D engine but with some major modifications. The 800cc, 3 cylinder engine has 12 valves and comes with friction busting pistons, an altered compression ratio while the connecting rods and crankshaft lobes have been lightened. The air intake is longer and the Alto now produces 49PS and 69Nm of torque. Power and torque has increased from before and the 22.7kmpl ARAI claimed fuel efficiency (previously was 19.73) is what would really interest the customers. Power delivery is linear and the engine is matched to a 5 speed manual gearbox. Changes to the suspension set up include gas dampers at the rear and the torsional rigidity on the Alto has improved too.
Hyundai i10 1.2 Kappa
The i10 when first launched it showed us what Hyundai was capable of. Thei10 was a big change from the days of the Santro and the hatch remains one of the best choices in its segment. The i10 with the 1.2-litre engine is the third most fuel efficient petrol hatch in the country with an ARAI claimed 20.36kmpl. The i10 shows the progress Hyundai has made in the small cars segment and prices for the 1.2-litre engine start from Rs 4.81 to Rs 5.94 lakhs ex-showroom New Delhi.
Thei10 is exported to over 110 countries from India and last got a facelift in 2010. Its compact dimensions make it perfect for city use and at the front are the large headlamps, a large air dam on the front bumper and the hexagonal grille is placed high. From the rear the hatch looks smart and the interior quality is amongst the best in the segment. Plastic quality used is good, the instrument console looks smart a large speedo and the cabin has a two-tone finish. The steering wheel is chunky, ergonomics are good and so is the interior space. The fully loaded variant includes central locking, indicators on outside rear view mirrors, leather steering wheel, a 2DIN CD/MP3 player with AUX and USB ports, steering mounted controls, keyless entry, ABS, dual front airbags, reverse parking sensors and Bluetooth connectivity.
The 1.2-litre motor produces 80PS and 112Nm of torque and uses variable valve timing technology. The engine with double overhead camshafts uses 4 valves per cylinder with a claimed 20.36kmpl. The silky smooth engine reaches 100kmph in under 12seconds and the engine uses an offset crankshaft to reduce vibrations. The engine is matched to a 5 speed manual gearbox and uses Macpherson struts at the front with a torsion beam setup at the rear. Ride quality is good but the tall springs results in body roll around corners.
The Hyundai Eon it has been said time and time again is not only a game changer for Hyundai but also will change how we in India will look at entry level hatchbacks forever. Apart from being the best looking hatch in the segment, the Eon is also the 4th most fuel efficient petrol hatch with an ARAI claimed 21.1kmpl. The Eon has lived up to the hype before its launch and prices start from Rs 3.07 to Rs 4.14 lakhs ex-showroom New Delhi.
Built on a completely new platform the Eon uses Hyundai’s ‘Fluid’ design philosophy and displays the now characteristic hexagonal face along with the swept back headlamps. Drawing your eye is the headlamps, the wheel arches, creases on the bonnet and the prominent shoulder line. At the rear are the comma-shaped tail lamps and spoiler and the styling makes you believe that the Eon is a more expensive car than it actually is.
While the plastic quality isn’t great, the cabin uses beige and black plastics with silver accents. The dashboard too has a hexagonal theme and the instrument cluster has a large speedometer and there is also a small screen which indicates shift points to get the best fuel efficiency. Compared to the Alto the Eon is wider and taller and has more spacious interiors. The top of the line variant gets power steering, air con, there is also a 2-DIN audio system with aux/USB, front power windows, tilt steering and keyless entry.
The 3-cylinder, 814cc petrol engine produces 56PS and 76.5Nm of torque @4000rpm and this is the same engine as on the i10. The 3 cylinder engine isn’t the most refined but there is a counter balancer to check vibrations. The 21.1kmpl fuel efficiency is another of its strengths 100kmph is reached in 17seconds. For city use the hatch has enough grunt and matched to the engine is a 5-speed manual gearbox. The ride is good and the handling isn’t bad either.
Maruti Suzuki Alto K10
The Alto is the largest selling car in India, theAlto K10 is the second Maruti Suzuki to be featured in our list and is also the 4th most fuel efficient petrol hatch in India with an ARAI claimed 20.2kmpl. Prices for the Alto K10 start from Rs 3.53 to Rs 3.67lakhs ex-showroom New Delhi.
The dimensions of the Alto makes it easy to drive it around and Maruti has dried to make this rather basic looking hatch fresher with angular headlamps and chrome grille. Compared to the new Alto and the Hyundai Eon the original Alto does look dated. To liven up the interiors the hatch gets a three-spoke steering wheel but the interiors look old and material used is poor. Space for the rear passengers is cramped and the top of the line variant gets front fog lamps, power windows for the front passengers and manual central locking.
The K-series engine on the Alto produces 68PS and 90Nm of torque and compared to the standard Alto this 3 cylinder, 1-litre engine produces 21PS and 28Nm more power. The engine is one of the most refined 3 cylinder motors around and not only does it reach 100kmph briskly, it is one of the few petrol hatchbacks in our country to deliver over 20kmpl. The engine uses a 5 speed manual gearbox and the ride and handling is average.
Hyundai i10 1.1-litre
This essentially is the same car as the previousi10 that was featured on list but uses a 1.1-litre iRDe engine. The Hyundai i10 with the smaller engine of the two and is priced at Rs 4.07lakhs to Rs 4.61lakhs ex-showroom New Delhi. Hyundai had made changes to the engine is 2010 which included a bigger intake and exhaust valve along with a special coating for its pistons. The engine with a single overhead cam shaft and 12-valves produces 69PS and 100Nm of torque. While the 1.2-litre engine delivers 21.1kmph the 1.1-litre engine delivers an ARAI claimed 19.6kmpl. Acceleration is reasonably brisk, the engine is smooth and power delivery is linear.
Maruti Suzuki A-star
The A-star is the international replacement of the Alto but like most manufacturers Maruti Suzuki also continues to sell the old and new models side by side. Not a bad idea since it’s the entry and budget hatch segment where the bulk of sales for Maruti Suzuki lie. The A-star which delivers 19.59kmpl makes it to our list as the 7th most fuel efficient petrol hatch in our country and prices start from Rs 4.14 to Rs 4.80lakhs ex-showroom New Delhi.
The A-star is definitely one of the most distinctive looking hatchbacks in our market with its large and hard to miss high mounted three dimensional headlights. The hatch has a wide stance, earlier this year the manufacturer added a rear roof spoiler and new alloy wheels for the top of the line model. The styling is funky, wheel arches are prominent and the window line is rising. The cabin is in beige, the dash has a ‘V’ shape and you also get a pop up tachometer behind the steering. The material used is better than on the Alto but not as good as on the i10. The rear seats split 50:50 but space for the rear passengers is limited. The boot is small and the top of the line ZXi variant comes with four power windows, ABS, airbags, front fog lamps, rear defogger a CD player and remote locking.
The 3 cylinder K10B engine is the same as the Alto and the 1-lite motor with four valves per cylinder and twin overhead camshafts produces 67PS and 90Nm. The engine revs freely and delivers 19.59kmpl while reaching 100kmph in around 15seconds. The torque spread makes the A-star fun to drive and the stiff chassis along with independent MacPherson struts at the front and the three-link axel results is agile handling and the ride quality isn’t bad either.
Maruti Suzuki Wagon R
The Maruti Suzuki Wagon R is generally certain to be featured in the top five cars sold monthly. Maruti sells on an average 10 to 15 thousand Wagon R’s every month and while the Wagon R may not be the obvious choice for those looking for a hatch, the fact remains that the wagon R is spacious, has good ride quality and with 18.9kmpl is also the 8th most fuel efficient hatch in India. Prices for this Maruti start from Rs 3.89 to Rs 4.85lakh ex-showroom New Delhi.
The Wagon R is an unassuming car which has been a best seller in Japan a number of times. The latest generation Wagon R was launched in 2010 and retains the tall boy stance. The styling has softened the bonnet is bigger, there is a big grille at the front and at the rear are tail lamps and a fat chrome strip. The tall boy stance results in a good road visibility while the blue upholstery feels premium. The steering wheel is chunky, the air con vents have silver-accents surrounds but the build quality isn’t as good as compared to the Hyundai i10 . The interior space is amongst the best in the segment and the top-of-the line variant comes with an audio system with a USB port, power steering, power windows, tilt adjustable steering, rear power windows, keyless entry while ABS and airbags are optional.
The 1-litre K10B steering is the same as in the Alto and the A-star and this highly acclaimed three-cylinder engine produces 68PS and 90Nm. The engine on the Wagon R delivers an ARAI claimed 18.9kmpl and is reasonably refined as well. Torque spread is to the liking of the driver and the acceleration isn’t bad either. The engine uses a 5 speed manual gearbox and the hatch uses a three-point arm with a three-link rigid axle at the front and at the rear is a trailing arm. Handling is better than before and the ride ensures passenger comfort.
The Chevrolet Beat is nearly three years old but is still the best looking hatch on sale in India by a margin. The Beat is for the image conscious buyer for who the other hatchbacks are just far too boring. The Beat is an international model for the global market and with an ARAI claimed fuel efficiency of 18.6kmpl it is also the 9th most fuel efficient petrol hatch. Prices for the hatch start from Rs4.17 to Rs 5.28 lakh ex-showroom New Delhi and Chevy and GM of late has started to be known for fuel efficient and well packaged cars which can take on the Japanese and Koreans.
The styling of the Beat is original with the double split Chevy grille, huge headlamps and high bonnet. The wheel arches are pronounced, on the sides are neat upswept creases and the rear has sporty chrome tail lamps. The styling on the inside is as funky with good quality of plastic and immediately catching your eye is the stylish centre console on the ‘V’ shaped dash and instrument panel which it seems is inspired from a motorcycle. The cabin uses a grey and black scheme and the instrument console has a silver rectangular LCD display. There are lots of places to store your stuff and the fully loaded version comes with power steering, air con, 60:40 split rear folding seats, central locking, rear spoiler, fog lamps, rear power windows, music system, air bags, climate control, ABS and alloy wheels.
The 1.2-litre, 4 cylinder petrol S-TEC II engine produces 80.5PS and 108Nm of torque but feels lethargic on the road. The hatch delivers an ARAI claimed 18.6kmpl but lacks the refinement which is associated with a Maruti Suzuki or a Hyundai. The engine nevertheless is smooth and is matched to a 5 speed manual gearbox which has a vague feel. The ride quality is impressive and the wide stance gives it good stability. The soft suspension however does result in body roll around corners.
Maruti Suzuki Estilo
Completing the top ten is a car which you would be excused to think is out of production. The Maruti Suzuki Estilo is the 5th Maruti on our list and with an ARAI certified 18.2kmpl is the 10th most fuel efficient petrol hatch in India. The Estilo has been in the market for a long time and was given a facelift in 2009. Based on the Wagon R the Estilo was originally thought to replace the Zen but hasn’t been as successful as the hatch it was to replace. Prices start from Rs 3.78 to Rs 4.13 lakhs ex-showroom New Delhi.
Styling was a big issue with the Estilo when it was first launched and the manufacturer did try to correct that over three years ago with the redesigned headlamps, a new grill and bumper. The front fenders were worked on but the Estilo retains the tall boy stance and the Estilo from a distance looks a bit too much like a van. The interior uses beige and the two tone dashboard has a digital instrument cluster. Plastic quality isn’t bad and like on the Wagon R the cabin is roomy with a good driving position and interior space. The top-of-the-line variant gets ABS, front airbags, tachometer, remote locking, power windows and power steering.
The Estilo , A-star and the Alto share the same engine and the 1-litre engine produces the identical power ratings of 68PS and 90Nm. On the road the engine feels peppy with a claimed fuel efficiency of 18.2kmpl. 100kmph is reached in under 15seconds and the engine uses a 5 speed manual gearbox. The hatch uses independent MacPherson struts at the front and non-independent torsion beam rear suspension and the ride and handling is only average.