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Old 16th November 2018, 11:00   #1
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Default 2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India

There are cars and then, there are cars. As BHPians, we aren't looking at a mere mode of transportation from point A -> point B. To us, the journey is as important as the destination...be it that simple early morning run to work, or the pleasurable 1,000 kms road trip with our families.

Good thing is, the vibrant Indian market offers petrolheads a wide variety of fun-to-drive cars. And if you thought you need to spend big bucks to have fun, think again. Excellent options are available at each & every price point.

Best part is, most of these rides will keep the driver as well as family man in you happy. After all, the car of a typical Indian household just has to be a multi-tasker (ghat cornering on Sunday, office on Monday, kids to football ground on Wednesday, late-night revving on Friday, visit in-laws on Saturday).

Listed below, in no particular order, are the best enthusiast cars on sale today. Only those with a price tag <35 lakhs have been included, to keep the line-up relevant & accessible to the vast majority of gearheads.

Each of these cars will bring a smile to your face (*guaranteed*) in their own special way, every time you head out for a drive ! What's more, if you wish to enhance the driving experience, they are modification-friendly too (related thread).

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Old 16th November 2018, 11:00   #2
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Tata Tiago & Tigor JTP
2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-tiagotigorjtpedit.jpg

What's hot: Fast, tight, chuckable, raw & affordable! Great looking, 0-100 time of 10.38 sec, sharp handling, compliant ride, sporty exhaust, quality cabin, Harman entertainment system, lots of extra bits over the regular Tiago / Tigor

What's not: Max revs of just 5800, 3-cylinder engine, average low end torque, sales restricted to 11 cities, Tigor gets more features over Tiago, suitable for 4 & not 5 occupants, concerns over niggles, Tata's after-sales experiences are a gamble

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Old 16th November 2018, 11:00   #3
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Skoda Octavia vRS

What's hot: Explosive performance can match cars costing twice or thrice as much, fast DSG, sharp handling, solid stability, strong brakes, sportiness & practicality in one package, nice interiors, 5 star NCAP rating, well-priced for what it offers

What's not: No manual gearbox, firmer ride quality (than the regular Octavia's), electric steering lacks feel, guzzles petrol in the city, Skoda’s ill-famed service network, questionable long-term reliability, limited availability as its sold in batches

Official Review

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Old 16th November 2018, 11:00   #4
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Fiat Abarth Punto

What's hot: A proper hot hatch at an affordable price, 145 BHP turbo-petrol engine is F-A-S-T, beautiful dynamics & stability, pure hydraulic steering, A+ brakes, solid build quality, gorgeous Italian styling

What's not: Long & rubbery gearshift, awful driver ergonomics, long clutch throw, 155 mm GC, cheesy red stickering + highlights, inferior fit & finish, limited rear bench space, Fiat's after-sales quality, lacks the equipment you'd expect at this price point

NOTE: Also available in Urban Cross and Avventura guises with 5 less BHP.

Official Review

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Old 16th November 2018, 11:00   #5
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Ford Figo Sports Edition

What's hot: Quick, practical & efficient! Cracker of a 1.5L diesel, brings a smile on your face, tasteful cosmetic mods, improved dynamics and high speed ride, well-priced, good legroom

What's not: Lame 1.2L petrol isn't as much fun as the diesel, no variant with side + curtain airbags + SYNC, light steering feel at speed, average cabin quality, lighter build is unlike earlier Fords, limited rear headroom

Official Review

Ford Freestyle

What's hot: Well-priced, 1.2L petrol is peppy, 1.5L diesel is a cracker of an engine, will bring a smile to your face, stylish cosmetic add-ons, well-tuned suspension, 190 mm GC, Titanium+ variant gets 6 airbags + ESP + touchscreen HU + auto headlamps and wipers + rear cam

What's not: 3-cylinder 1.2L is good but there are better 4-cylinder 1.2L mills in the market, overall design feels old & bland, build quality is lighter than yesteryear Fords, average cabin quality, limited rear headroom

Official Review

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Old 16th November 2018, 11:00   #6
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VW Polo GT TSI
2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-993315_541537025902900_2009479208_n.jpg

What's hot: Fast & revv-happy 1.2L turbo-petrol, lightning quick 7-speed DSG, solid build & safety, has ESP, timeless styling, good quality interiors, loads of after-market support for modifications

What's not: DSG AT's lack of reliability, no manual, same exterior as the regular Polo, limited rear legroom, feels old, next-generation is already on sale abroad, VW's dealership experiences

Official Review

VW Polo GT TDI

What's hot: Fast & torquey 1.5L diesel, excellent fuel efficiency, smooth 5-speed MT, solid build & safety, timeless styling, good quality interiors, loads of after-market support for modifications

What's not: Not as explosive as the older 1.6L TDI, same exterior as the regular Polo, limited rear legroom, feels old, next-generation is already on sale abroad, VW's dealership experiences

Ownership Review

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Old 16th November 2018, 11:00   #7
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Mini Cooper S

What's hot: More fun than a Ferrari in India, sexy retro styling, punchy motor + snappy gearbox give effortless performance, go-kart-like handling, communicative steering, solid build, impressive fit & finish, near infinite levels of customisation, top-notch safety equipment

What's not: Grossly overpriced, imperfect ride quality, optional extras are terribly expensive + standard car is bare bones, no manual gearbox, cramped rear seat, no spare wheel, not practical as your only car (unlike an Octavia vRS)

Official Review

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Old 16th November 2018, 11:00   #8
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Maruti Baleno RS

What's hot: 101 BHP turbo-petrol, minimal turbo lag, tasteful bodykit, user-friendly & spacious cabin, comfortable ride & neutral on-road behaviour, all-round disc brakes, loaded with equipment, large 339 litre boot, Maruti's excellent after-sales service

What's not: A stiff 1.2 lakh rupee premium over its 1.2L sibling, engine doesn't feel explosive like the Polo TSI, light build, ordinary interiors with budget grade parts, 3-cylinder motor lacks the refinement of 4-cylinder engines, rear seat headroom and under-thigh support are limited for tall folks

Official Review

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Old 16th November 2018, 11:00   #9
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Mahindra Thar

What's hot: Retro Jeep styling, oodles of power & torque for effortless highway cruising, nippy power steering & zero turbo-lag make light work of city driving, comfortable ride quality (by Jeep standards), offroad competency will exceed the needs of most owners, a Jeep with warranty + parts + labour support, comes with a lockable rear diff & auto-locking hubs

What's not: Cheap + appalling interior quality, owners continuously report niggles, absence of lockable hardtop makes the Thar impractical for daily use, complicated front IFS has offroad limitations, driver ergonomics messed up (pedal position, off-center steering etc.), nervous steering feel over 100 kmph, inconsistent M&M service support

Official Review

Maruti Gypsy
2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-gypsy.jpg

What's hot: Timeless charm, competent off the road, outstanding reliability, low maintenance, modification potential, agile to drive, extremely abuse-friendly

What's not: No diesel, low fuel efficiency, poor low-end torque, horrible ride quality, potentially long wait period due to inconsistent production schedules

Isuzu V-Cross

What's hot: Macho styling & incredible street presence, solid + robust build, practical 2.5L diesel, proper 4x4 system with low range transfer case, ground clearance of 225 mm, excellent cargo capacity, user-friendly cabin can easily accommodate 5 adults, we find the overall package to be well-priced

What's not: Sheer length + heavy steering + 6.3m turning radius make it cumbersome in the city, bumpy ride quality, Isuzu's wafer-thin dealership network, short 5000 km service intervals, heavy kerb weight + long wheelbase + rear overhang limit its offroad credentials, the same $$$ can buy you a proper 7-seater SUV

Official Review

Last edited by GTO : 16th November 2018 at 11:05.
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Old 16th November 2018, 11:00   #10
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Other Notable Mentions

Maruti Alto K10
2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-download.png
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What's hot: Pocket-rocket fun on a tiny budget, enjoyable with fatter tyres & a free-flow exhaust, 67 BHP in a 740 kilo car (power-to-weight ratio of 91 BHP / ton), light & mechanical driving feel, immensely chuckable nature, compliant ride quality

What's not: Fun <90 kmph and not over it, abject lack of safety, nervous behaviour at speed, flimsy build + economy grade quality, cramped rear seat

Official Review

Honda Brio
2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-brio.jpg
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What's hot: 95 BHP / Ton power-to-weight ratio, entertaining to drive, redline-happy engine, small + tight + chuckable chassis

What's not: Feels old & outdated, cheap dashboard, choppy ride on imperfect roads, tiny 175 liter boot, quirky rear-end styling

Official Review

Maruti Swift
2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-swift.jpg
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What's hot: Fab looking, slick revv-happy petrol engine, power-to-weight = 96 BHP/ton, enjoyable handling & on-road behaviour, stylish black cabin, impressive equipment list, tons of after-market support, Maruti's fuss-free ownership

What's not: Revvs limited to 6300 rpm, mediocre interior plastic quality, old 1.3L diesel has just 74 BHP on tap, some variants have waiting periods, small 37-litre fuel tank

Official Review

Toyota Etios 1.5L Petrol
2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-etios.jpg
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What's hot: Punchy 1.5L petrol engine offers quick performance & fabulous driveability, f-l-a-t handling, slick gearshift, spacious cabin, comfortable ride quality, Toyota's fuss-free ownership, 4-star NCAP safety rating

What's not: Terribly old & outdated, economy grade interior, drab "taxi" image, weird dashboard, cost-cutting glaringly obvious everywhere, petrol doesn't like the redline

Official Review

Honda City
2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-honda-city.jpg
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What's hot: A family sedan that can be fun, delicious 1.5L petrol is still the benchmark among n/a engines, revvs happily past 7000 rpm, sweet engine note at high rpm, spacious cabin, loaded with equipment (including a fun sunroof). I'd buy mine in white, get a black roof, black rims, fatter tyres, free-flow exhaust, performance air intake & high-rev away to glory!

What's not: Light build & quality compromises by Honda, expensive price tag, 1.5L diesel isn't a match to the Verna or VAG diesels, EPS is sensitive at speed & lacks feedback, skinny 185 section tyres, low rear headroom for 6 footers, some missing features

Official Review

Fiat Linea 1.4L Turbo Petrol
2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-linea.jpg
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What's hot: A fast European TANK, 123 BHP turbo-petrol, best-in-class suspension & mature high speed behaviour, perfectly calibrated hydraulic steering is a masterpiece, A+ brakes, incredibly satisfying to drive

What's not: Feels old & outdated, w-e-i-r-d driving position & ergonomics, long throw rubbery gearshift, Fiat's sub-par service, disastrous resale value, interior quality is below average, niggles & irritants

Official Review

Jeep Compass
2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-compass.jpg
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What's hot: Handsome styling + loads of character, terrific 2.0L diesel offers good driveability & fast performance, mature suspension setup & rock-solid stability, nicely tuned EPS, smooth gearshift, robust build quality, capable AWD, top-notch safety, well priced IMHO. The only crossover on this list and one that'll leave a grin plastered on your face after a highway drive

What's not: Lame 1.4L Petrol AT, small size for the price, compact cabin + boot, tiny dealer network, many owners are reporting problems & breakdowns, 2 lakh premium for the AWD, only the AWD gets 6 airbags (rest get merely 2), no diesel AT, wide 5.65m turning radius, some missing features

Official Review

Pre-worshipped Cars
2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-530d.jpg
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If you are a fan of pre-owned cars as I am, the world is your playground . And there is something to fit every budget. From pristine Honda Civics & Linea T-Jets for 3 - 4 lakhs to excellent Jettas & Octavias for 8 - 10 lakhs to 320ds & 530ds for 15 - 30 lakhs to Porsche Caymans for 35 - 40 lakhs to Ferraris for 1.xx crore...just take your pick and join in on the fun !

Last edited by GTO : 16th November 2018 at 12:30.
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Old 16th November 2018, 11:16   #11
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Default Re: 2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Indian Car Scene!
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Old 16th November 2018, 11:31   #12
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Default Re: 2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India

Thank you for bringing this much awaited thread back this year.

Quite an exciting time too! The VW twins have been around for a while, but the TSi especially is still the best fun automatic. Figo diesel (even though a sales flop) and the JTP twins have really brought in some extra options to the entry level warm hatch buyer. Too bad the Abarth never sold in numbers it deserved (and that's expected too!), but I just hope the JTP twins have a better future ahead. If it does - the market will change for the better.

Octavia vRS still looks to be the benchmark to beat in the D segment space. But having a open affinity for small SUVs given our road conditions, I'm glad there is an option in the Jeep Compass.

Hyundai is missing from the action, and they don't seem interested to bring in their N division. Hope atleast Kia does something about this! Also the last time we can include the legendary Gypsy in this thread, unless Maruti shows some mercy by bringing in the much awaited Jimny.



PS: That Honda City image seems to be of the previous generation - the missing squared out wheel arches are a giveaway.

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Old 16th November 2018, 11:35   #13
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Default Re: 2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India

I am surprised, SUV's don't get a place here(except Jeep, Gypsy and Thar).
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Old 16th November 2018, 11:43   #14
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Default Re: 2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India

A very well compiled list indeed. Nice to see the Tigor and Tiago JTP make it. Hoping for more of Indian cars on the list.

As an enthusiast, I would love to go pre-owned. Some reasons:

- More Hp/R.s. As simple as that. A Volkswagen Jetta or a Skoda Laura 1.8 TSI would be far better value with respect to power to money ratio. (Although new cars have made significant strides in this regard)

- You don't take a depreciation hit. I see a lot of Abarth Puntos going for cheap prices (as low as 7 lakhs) on OLX. I can't imagine plonking close to 11 lakhs into a GT TSI or Abarth and selling it off within a year or two. The market might have matured but we still look at many of the cars in the list above as fuel guzzlers. Period.

These two advantages seal the deal for me. However, cost of spares, getting a lemon and reliability are also to be taken into account when going pre-owned.

Personally ,my definition of a bargain enthusiast car would be a Jetta 2.0 TDI with the following mods:

- Bilstien B6 dampers to sharpen the already accomplished dynamics

- A remap from a reputed tuner (Wolf moto , Pete's etc.) upto stage 1 atleast initially. Remaps are fairly cheap for the Jetta starting off at Rs. 25K !

- Subtle visual mods (A GLI bumper, blacked out roof and ORVM etc.)

Even a Laura 1.8 TSI with such mods can make for an excellent enthusiasts choice. It also offers a manual GB unlike the current Octavia which compels you to go for the DSG.

If it would have to be new, I would seriously consider the JTP twins apart from the GT TSI and Freestyle TDCi (Figo has been discontinued for now). The Baleno RS doesn't do justice to the premium it commands while the Abarth feels too dated. (Fiat's uncertain future in India doesn't help)

Last edited by vishy76 : 16th November 2018 at 11:45.
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Old 16th November 2018, 11:53   #15
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Default Re: 2018 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India

Great post! Going through the post feels delicious for car enthusiasts like us! However, I am wondering, why Hyundai Verna 1.6 litre Diesel engine could not find place in the list. Excellent Car in all respect my opinion, except a tight rear space.

Cheers!
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