The best driver’s car now applies to the Rs 6-8 lakhs mark and also the Rs 8-12 lakhs and this is what we supposedly have got in this segment. While there are many cars which would have loved to take on the Volkswagen Vento or rather are still trying to take it down, there is a ray of hope with the fact that more and more manufacturers are coming out in this segment with their new products. The Vento diesel is not only the quickest car in its segment but it also has got a good top end speed. The best part is that there is not much of turbo lag either. 0-100 kmph for the Vento diesel takes only 10.5 seconds while the Hyundai Verna trails behind by just .1 seconds for the 0-100 kmph dash. Unlike most cars in this price bracket which consider overtaking or accelerating through gears as a chore and kick in reluctantly, the Vento diesel has got effortless performance on tap. In the twisties and ghat sections, the Vento diesel is a hoot to drive and the gearbox also perfectly complements this car with sporty shifts.
Another VW takes the second spot and this is the Polo 1.6 petrol. The stability in a straight line as also the steering response of the Polo are better than its closest competitor, the Hyundai i20 diesel. 11.2 seconds is what it takes the Polo to go from 0-100 while the diesel i20 reaches the same mark in 12.6 seconds. Also in the corners, the Polo proves to be the better car with minimal body roll. However, when it comes to braking, the i20 outshines the Polo and also the Vento. The brake modulation on this Hyundai is very good and harder braking is taken easily by the car. The Polo however, loses out on the fact that fuel efficiency is not so good in this car and also the fact that it is not so environment friendly as compared with the i20. The Polo, however, comes with a more sporty gearbox and this complements the drive experience perfectly.
Polo’s stablemate, the Fabia also has all the attributes of the Polo plus a tighter bodyline. It is much more easy to maneuver than the Polo also. The Maruti SX4 petrol is also a good option in this price bracket with its large ground clearance and more than willing chassis. It is quick off the line and has respectable top speed to boot for. The bottom of our analysis table, however, is filled with SUVs. Given their penchant for weight, suspension characteristics and also size, dynamics is usually the last thing on their list of things to do. The Sumo Grande is the one which comes in the last place here. It has got the least dynamically astute body frame here. For the SUVs, it is the Mahindra Scorpio which has got a good power train and also some better dynamics than the Safari. Amongst people movers, it is another Mahindra which wins and it is the Xylo. It even out battles the Safari here.
The best driver’s car in this category which comes in the Rs 8-12 lakhs would be the Toyota Corolla Altis. The steering wheel may not have a very linear feel but it is a very easy to live with car and also has a god ride quality to boot for. Superb acceleration is provided for by the 1.8 liter motor and the top speed is close to 190 kmph. The quickest car in this category, however, is the Honda City. It has an engine which loves to be revved and can basically take some amount of abuse. It is matched with a smooth shifting gearbox as well. Top speed is also in the region of 190 kmph. The City also has got driveability on its side and this is where the Altis loses out as the 1.8 liter engine is not too driveable. There are not too many choices in here but the best MUV would obviously be the Toyota Innova. It has got the dynamics of a car and were it not for its size, would have been the best handling MUV ever built. Its dynamics are unlike any Toyota that can be found in India. Acceleration may not be that great but it definitely is at par with what MUVs should offer. However, were it not for the obvious bulk, it would have scored more under the maneuverability thing.