Here we are back with the best driver’s car in each and every segment comparison. Whilst last time around in the budget segment, it was the Santro which clearly whipped the competition, here we have the next bunch of cars ready to undergo evaluation. These are the cars from the Rs 3-5 lakhs category.
One thing that we have consistently maintained is that one of the best cars in this category for a driver happens to be the Maruti Swift. However, it seems that its days have been numbered here, that is until the newer variant comes in and blows the competition away. There is the Nissan Micra which has a good steering feel and almost in the same ballpark as the Swift’s. However, while the Micra may not feel as grounded as the Swift, it is more easily maneuverable. Moreover, there is a certain wallowy as also rolling action which is more pronounced on the Micra. The best part is that braking for this car is way ahead of the Swift’s. The Swift claws its way back with a driver focused cabin along with a superb K series engine. This engine gives it class leading acceleration figures and also top speed. The 5 speed manual gearbox also makes it a delight to drive. Then there is its stablemate, the Maruti A-star which again thanks to better feel and steering response, just about nudges ahead of the Swift. It has got a lesser turning radius than the Swift and is more maneuverable. It is also much of a point and shoot machine than the Swift. However, it loses out on the ride quality and stability factor.
Ford is known to make cars with good dynamics and proof enough of that is the Ford Figo. The Figo has got much better dynamics on hand plus the steering response is also awesome. It is also rock solid at high speeds. Then there is the Maruti Ritz, which though built on the same platform as the Swift has different characteristics to boot for. The Ritz is also nimble like the A-star or even the Micra for that matter. It however, suffers a bit from stability issues on the highway. The steering response is also on the lighter side for most part of the drive. For the not so hot selling U-VA, top speed stability is similar to the Figo and while the car would have some issues going around corners or making quick lane change maneuvers, with a better engine and gearbox, the car would definitely give the Swift a run for its money. The Maruti Estilo also falls in this category and there is a lot of difference is from the engine and gearbox change from the previous model. Though, the tall boy design doesn’t allow it to go as smoothly around corners, it nevertheless is a stable machine on the highway. But then the gearbox still doesn’t encourage enthusiastic driving and the soft suspension makes things mucky.
The General has got one more from his arsenal here and it is the Beat. Now, the Beat is an okay corner tool and its stability is also not questionable. However, its engine and gearbox simply aren’t upto the task and cant make up for the entire package. Moreover, the tyres of the Beat are also more on the lean side and they are only there for enhanced fuel economy, which the Beat just about manages to deliver. Now, there is the Fiat Palio Stile which is under the scanner and though its dynamics can never be questioned, it’s the engine which simply doesn’t excite enough. The 1.1 liter Fire engine just about manages to take the Palio from 0-100 kmph in under 22 seconds. Not at all impressive.
Of all the cars mentioned here, it is the Nissan Micra which comes out on tops with the best driver’s car tag followed by the Ford Figo which happens to be the best handling one. The bottom of the heap is of course the Fiat Palio Stile. All the other cars make their presence felt in the middle of the table.