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Old 9th November 2020, 09:01   #1
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Default 2020 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 drive in the city, or the pleasurable 1000 km road trip with our families.

Good thing is, the vibrant Indian market offers petrolheads a wide variety of fun-to-drive cars. BS6 norms & turbo-charged petrols have spiced up the game too. 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, work 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 of ~50 lakhs & under have been included, to keep the line-up relevant & accessible to 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).

Last edited by GTO : 12th November 2020 at 11:14. Reason: Clarifying price range
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Old 9th November 2020, 09:01   #2
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VW Polo 1.0L TSI

What's hot: Fast & fun to drive, begs to be driven hard! Brilliant 109 BHP 1.0L TSI engine is an enthusiast's delight, mated to a slick 6-speed MT, mature suspension gives the Polo good road manners, still looks great - old, but timeless + clean + classy, solidly built with a European feel that no other hatchback matches till today, among the safest hatchbacks in India - GNCAP rating of 4 stars, features such as cruise control, reach + rake steering, auto-wipers, driver armrest, tinted windows

What's not: Yet another Polo variant & engine, enough already (related thread)!! 1.0 TSIís refinement is poor at high rpm (itís acceptable at regular revs), an 11-year old model - the next-generation Polo is already on sale abroad, limited rear bench legroom and a large floor hump...your family wonít be pleased, VW's sub-par dealership & service experiences, many missing features like keyless-entry-go, reversing camera, oldschool MID, boot light, split rear seat, projector / LED headlamps, basic 4-speaker ICE, premium pricing! Amongst the most expensive cars in the segment, despite being the oldest

Official Review

Rapid / Vento 1.0L TSI

What's hot: Most fun-to-drive C2 segment sedan on sale today, begs to be driven hard! Brilliant 109 BHP 1.0L TSI engine is an enthusiast's delight, mated to a slick 6-speed MT, the Skoda Rapid's European build quality is more solid than the competition's, VFM pricing; we feel that the Rapid is well-priced for what it offers, mature suspension offers a balanced ride & best-in-class dynamics, strong safety rating, 4 airbags & good brakes, still looks great, old, but timeless, clean & classy, features such as rake & reach steering, cruise control, auto headlamps + wipers, adjustable driver armrest, tinted windows

What's not: The Skoda Rapid is a 9-year old car based on the 11-year old VW Polo, cabin feels outdated too, horror stories about Skoda's after-sales service, 1.0 TSIís refinement is poor at high rpm (itís satisfactory at regular revs), unknown long-term reliability of this complex turbo-petrol engine, horrible, cheap & buggy audio system in the Style & Monte Carlo variants, tall rear floor hump will annoy the 5th occupant, no diesel, missing features like Android Auto / Apple CarPlay, keyless-entry-go, oldschool MID, LED headlamps, basic 4-speaker ICE, sunroof

Official Review

Last edited by GTO : 9th November 2020 at 09:19.
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Old 9th November 2020, 09:01   #3
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Mahindra Thar

What's hot: Fun, fun, fun! A loveable car that will bring you loads of laughs & smiles, handsome Jeep styling & brute character, tough build too, far more user-friendly than the olí Thar due to superior interiors & the amenities, very competent, refined turbo-petrol & diesel engine range, butter-smooth 6-speed Automatics available with both engines, 4x4 hardware, offroad capability & 226 mm GC, get ready for slush, muck, deserts, jungles & the mountains! Practical hard-top or fun convertible available in the Thar Ė take your pick, features such as removable doors, ESP, cruise control, hill hold / descent, TPMS

What's not: Very bumpy ride quality, the Thar is never settled, no matter what the road or speed, poor road manners at high speed, best to cruise at 100 - 110 km/h only, impractical due to the 2-doors, 4 seats (not 5) & difficult access to the back seat, laughably small boot simply isnít enough for holiday luggage, petrol AT is thirsty due to its hefty weight, 150 BHP & torque-converter AT, premium pricing for the higher variants, lot of money for the Thar's limited usability, sad feature list for a 17-lakh car, no reversing cam, auto-dimming IRVM, auto headlamps & wipers, electrically-folding ORVMs, rear wash & wipe, apprehensions of niggles & Mahindra's hit-or-miss after-sales service quality, 6-month long waiting periods

Official Review

Last edited by GTO : 9th November 2020 at 09:19.
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Old 9th November 2020, 09:01   #4
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Skoda Octavia RS 245
2020 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-skodavrs.jpg

What's hot: Explosive performance from the turbo-petrol, Fast DSG too, sharp handling, solid stability & strong brakes, top quality interior with enough space, sporty seats & a cavernous boot, loaded with features & tech, 5 star NCAP rating, sportiness & practicality in one package, work on weekdays, play on weekends

What's not: Overpriced, the BMW 330i isn't too far away, ride quality is noticeably firmer than the regular Octavia's, powerful engine guzzles fuel in the city & runs best on pricey high-octane petrol, steering feel from the EPS is missing (it's precise though), unusually tall floor hump makes things uncomfortable for the 5th occupant, concerns about long-term reliability & Skodaís ill-famed service network

Link to Launch Thread

Last edited by GTO : 9th November 2020 at 09:18.
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Old 9th November 2020, 09:02   #5
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Honda City 1.5L Petrol
2020 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-city.jpg

What's hot: This is the benchmark C2-segment family sedan, insanely rev-happy 1.5L petrol is the benchmark naturally-aspirated engine, sounds terrific at high rpm, slick gearbox & sweet clutch (smooth AT available too), quick & responsive steering, as much fun as the Rapid 1.0 TSI until 120 kmph, compliant ride quality, part quality has overall improved, spacious cabin, practical boot, safety features include 6 airbags, 3-point seatbelts for all, ESP, Hill Start Assist etc., goodies like sunroof, Honda connect with Alexa, auto headlamps & wipers, cruise control, Honda's reliability

What's not: Rear end gets bouncy at high speeds on undulating roads (typical Honda City trait), chassis & suspension don't match the potent engine at 120 kmph and above, jerky rev-limiter in the petrol, diesel's 98 BHP power is ordinary by current standards, puny 185-section tyres give up easily - an upgrade to 195 / 205 mm rubber is mandatory, petrol's midrange feels flat in this era of turbo-petrols, sad audio head-unit has an outdated interface, ICE sound quality is just average, low seating isn't senior citizen-friendly, poor sound insulation at high speeds

Link to my review

Last edited by GTO : 9th November 2020 at 09:17.
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Old 9th November 2020, 09:02   #6
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BMW 330i
2020 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-330i.jpg

What's hot: Just the right size for a luxury sedan in India, punchy rev-happy engine & well-tuned gearbox deliver superb performance, great combination of ride and handling; just how a 3 Series should be, big step up in interior quality & design (from the F30), loaded with tech, new style speedometer & more, iDrive 7 is nice to use

What's not: Sad boot space with the spare wheel underneath, features like keyless entry, HUD, Adaptive LEDs are expected at this price, Rs. 42 - 49 lakh price is stiff although fat dealer discounts are available, fake engine noise piped in; tad too fake for my tastes

Official Review

Last edited by GTO : 9th November 2020 at 09:16.
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Old 9th November 2020, 09:02   #7
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Creta / Seltos 1.4L Turbo-Petrol
2020 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-seltos.jpg

What's hot: 138 BHP turbo-petrol offers fast & enjoyable performance, slick dual-clutch AT available, sorted road manners & handling (including at high speed), superbly engineered all-rounders that deliver a premium experience, we find them to be well-priced for what they offer, user-friendly interiors with sufficient space & good quality parts, safety package includes 6 airbags, ESP, all-wheel disc brakes, TPMS etc., impressively equipped with many cool features

What's not: The Creta's oddball styling, Seltos' suspension is too firm (especially with the 17" rims), back seat's width makes it better for 2 adults and a kid rather than 3 adults, dual-clutch ATs have a history of poor reliability in India, you get bigger SUVs & Crossovers for the same money (e.g. Hector, Harrier, XUV500)

Creta Review, Seltos Review

2020 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-creta.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 9th November 2020 at 09:15.
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Old 9th November 2020, 09:02   #8
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Hyundai Grand i10 Nios Turbo-Petrol

What's hot: A well-rounded, fun-to-drive hatchback, this Hyundai will leave you grinning , fantastic turbo-petrol engine! Transforms the Grand i10 into a hot hatch, precise build & quality (including interiors) are among the segment best, balanced road manners & easy-to-drive nature, features such as all-black interiors, projector headlamps, wireless phone charging etc., Hyundai's competent after-sales, fuss-free ownership experiences & (upto) 5-year standard warranty

What's not: Turbo-petrol carries a stiff 1 lakh ex-showroom premium over the 1.2L n/a petrol, 175 mm economy-oriented MRF tyres give up easily, an upgrade to 185 / 195 rubber is mandatory, turbo-petrol doesnít get the DCT Automatic or iMT seen in the Venue, narrow width makes it a 4-seater, some competitors offer more spacious cabins, low speed ride quality is firmer than what one expects in a Hyundai, bad roads are felt, some misses (full size spare tyre, adjustable neck restraints, rear wash & wipe), ordinary stereo, Hyundai's ICE hasnít kept up with the times (sound quality = 6/10)

Official Review. Also check out the Aura!

Last edited by GTO : 9th November 2020 at 09:14.
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Old 9th November 2020, 09:02   #9
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Jeep Compass
2020 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, robust build quality, capable AWD, top-notch safety, will leave a grin plastered on your face after a highway drive

What's not: Lame 1.4L Petrol AT, small size for the price, feels overpriced in the light of newer competition, compact cabin + boot, small dealer network, many owners are reporting niggles, 2 lakh premium for the AWD, wide 5.65m turning radius, some missing features

Official Review

Last edited by GTO : 9th November 2020 at 09:13.
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Old 9th November 2020, 09:02   #10
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Ford Figo & Freestyle 1.5L TDCi
2020 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-figo.jpg

What's hot: Aston Martin-esque face looks very stylish! Peppy 95 BHP 3-cylinder petrol is much improved over the earlier lethargic 1.2L, powerful + fast + efficient 1.5L diesel, excellent driveability too, mature ride quality, improved handling thanks to the fatter 195 mm tyres, well-packaged cabin offers good legroom, lots of features and a chilling air-con, Titanium+ variant gets 6 airbags, 5 year / 1 lakh km warranty with transparent + reasonable service costs, we feel the pricing is very fair for the package on offer

What's not: 1.2L is good for a 3-cylinder engine, but the 4-cylinder 1.2s from Maruti, Hyundai & gang are superior, overall design (other than the face) feels old & bland compared to newer hatchbacks, some missing essentials (e.g. dead pedal) & some deletions (e.g. SYNC3, height-adjustable seatbelts), lighter build is a departure from the usual Ford sturdiness, cabin width makes the Figo suited to 4 adults not 5, rear headroom is limited, headliner brushes the heads of taller passengers, a bit uncertain of how the long-term after-sales will be with the Mahindra-Ford JV

Official Figo Review, Freestyle Review

Last edited by GTO : 9th November 2020 at 09:12.
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Old 9th November 2020, 09:02   #11
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Maruti Swift
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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, adequate equipment list, tons of after-market support, Maruti's fuss-free ownership

What's not: Revvs limited to just 6300 rpm, mediocre interior plastic quality, more spacious & comfortable Baleno is priced not too far away, jerky AMT, 163 mm of ground clearance & small 37-liter fuel tank raise our eyebrows

Official Review

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Old 9th November 2020, 09:02   #12
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Mercedes-Benz C300d
2020 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-c300d.jpeg

What's hot: Powerful engine with a 0 - 100 time of ~6 seconds, lovely 9-speed gearbox, AMG Line body kit looks hot, features like panoramic sunroof

What's not: Limited rear seat space, firm ride quality, very expensive

Link to Ownership Review

Last edited by GTO : 9th November 2020 at 09:21.
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Old 9th November 2020, 09:03   #13
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Renault Duster Turbo

What's hot: A Duster on steroids! 154 BHP motor has transformed its personality, very fast & loads of fun on the open road, punchy mid-range will leave you grinning, turbo-petrol's refinement levels are terrific including at high rpm, smooth CVT automatic available and it's quick too, mature ride quality & sorted dynamics, the Duster is still a good-looking crossover, exterior styling has aged well, robust, abuse-friendly build & construction, practical boot (475 - 1064 liters of cargo capacity), fair pricing for a 154 BHP crossover, lakhs cheaper than the Creta / Seltos 1.4 Turbos, ESP is a crucial safety feature in a fast car, while Hill Hold is very useful with a laggy engine, 205 mm of ground clearance, dismisses broken roads with aplomb

What's not: 1.3L turbo-petrol suffers lag at low revs, it's very easy to stall too, Duster's terribly old & outdated interiors are the biggest deal-breaker, feature list is basic by current times (no sunroof or keyless entry & go, just 2 airbags...), ride quality is good, but retuned suspension & 17" rims have taken the "magic" away, price premium of ~2 lakhs for the turbo-petrol & 1.6 lakhs for the CVT is way too high, red highlights all over the car look extremely garish; we'd get them removed, the next-gen Duster is already on sale globally but Renault won't bring it here, workhorse 1.5L diesel & competent AWD are gone!!! Mediocre rear seat legroom - more like C1 segment sedans than C2, road & wind noise are prominent at high speed, Renault's after-sales service quality is inconsistent

Official Review

Last edited by GTO : 9th November 2020 at 09:09.
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Old 9th November 2020, 09:03   #14
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Mini Cooper S
2020 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-mini.jpg

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 RS)

Official Review

Last edited by GTO : 9th November 2020 at 09:05.
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Old 9th November 2020, 09:03   #15
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Other Notable Mentions

Maruti Ignis
2020 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-ignis.jpg

Surprisingly fun due to the wheels pushed to the 4 corners of the car, funky design, good legroom & headroom in such a small package, peppy petrol is very rev-happy, not a VFM Maruti (top trim is especially pricey), weird rear end styling.

Official Review

Pre-worshipped Cars
2020 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-pre.jpeg

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 Octavia 1.8s & Punto Abarths to excellent M5s & 911s (ownership report)...just take your pick and join in on the fun !

Coming Soon
2020 Lineup: The Best Enthusiast Cars in India-gurkha-v-cross.jpg

The BS6 Gurkha & V-Cross will be launched shortly.
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