20 lakh rupees, but still no complete Indian car for me?

Alas, that's not the case and doesn't seem to get any better any time soon. Unless some of you know if a real good contender is coming any time soon?

New.Novice recently shared this with other BHPians.


When I bought my Ford Fiesta Zxi (what the Ford called Classic later) in 2010, I articulated my joy on the pages of Team-Bhp. They are still buried some where here. Between 2010 and 2021 (oh boy ain't we glad 2020 is finally over) that joy only went one way and I don't have to tell you which way is that.

I would tap the steering wheel of my car twice, as a way of showing my respect, every time I would reach home at odd hours with my young family in the car after long drives. Acknowledging the confidence she has been able to give me, to not think twice and move around irrespective of the time, irrespective of the roads.

But with 11 years under its belt, the age starts showing. The fact that it has taken water once doesn't help either. As much as I would love to be with her, it is time for me to switch. And hence the big question..SWITCH TO WHAT?

The Contenders

Everything considered, a comfortable budget would be 15 lacs. A quick glance over the options available, it doesn't take time to realize you don't really get many GREAT options in that budget. What the heck, this is first real upgrade for me (wife changed from a M800 to a Maruti Celerio Automatic in the mean while) so why not push the envelope a little and the new figure arrived at is Rs. 20 Lacs TOPS.

With that figure in mind, I started looking for cars. The list of contenders that I seriously considered went as following:

Kia Seltos

What you get in the vicinity of 12 to 15 lacs leaves you wanting for more. Especially since the car offers so much more if you indeed cross that price point. Took the family to the showroom and we TDed a Petrol Automatic. The car has so much to offer but somehow it doesn't convince you fully.

Why? It doesn't necessarily offer more space than what you get in a Fiesta. Boot space, which is a key consideration for us, is identical if not rather slightly less. The design, which is appealing right now, may make it look dated soon enough. Difficult to put a finger, but somehow it didn't sweep us off our feet.

Jeep Compass

Though I am not an off-roader per say, but I liked this car from day 1. Watched the launch video of facelift and that soft corner for the car grew even larger. A already good looking car was looking even better in that video. Plus, for good or for bad, I somehow like it better if I am not following the herd. What with everyone flocking to Kia and Hyundai showrooms these days.

Did a visit to the only showroom in Gurgaon and even wifey started to like the car. And this wasn't even the facelift. The SA did not have the price or feature list till then but he was able to confirm that the AT starts from the base Sport model in facelift and also knew that the price difference would be in the vicinity of 1.2 lacs per variant between two models. We both knew that in my budget its only the Sport that fits. Came back with an almost certainty that is going to be a Compass for me.

on 26th January, the SA got the spec sheet from FCA and he forwarded me that. I wasnt expecting much from the base model but that sheet made me a little nervous. Its going to be a bare bone variant. However, the price was the next factor which I was still waiting.

On 27th I got the price list of new Compass. The sport manual and sport AT has a WHOPPING 2.5 lacs difference ex-showroom. I couldn't believe my eyes and called the SA to confirm that the difference between these two is just the Automatic or some "features" are also added. He confirmed it is only the transmission. Sport 1.4Mair MT is 16,99,000 and Sport 1.4Mair DDCT is 19,49,000 ex-showroom. As much as I tried, I couldn't put my head around paying 2.5 lacs more for Automatic and Manual is not what I want to buy.

A disappointing call but had to bid goodbye to Compass. Think of it, well above 2 Million and you dont even get fog lamps, automatic AC, Remote keyless entry, Push Button much so that not even a parcel tray.

Hyundai Creta

Not much to write here. You know why? Because Hyundai dealers are unwilling to entertain you if you are in for Creta. The face drops and the SA lose interest. Tried two dealers and none of them even had a display car. Managed to see one when SA took us to the service area to see if there came one for service. The communication starts and ends in 2 minutes flat which goes something like.."sir, at least a 6 month waiting. Could be more. What do I tell you about the car". Not done Hyundai.

So end of story there.

MG Hector

Wasn't very hung-ho on this to begin with, but after a disappointing visit to a Hyundai showroom, thought why not check out the Hector. Wife and both kids in the company, we walked into MG flagship showroom in Gurgaon. Most well behaved and friendly staff welcomed us. The first thing they did was to give us a walk through of every model on display before bombarding us with questions like "which car are you looking for" , "what is your budget" , "when do you want to buy the car", etc. which we thought was the norm at other brands.

I think in 15 minutes of us entering the showroom , the kids were decided that it is the Hector that we want. The only question remained was if it is going to be Hector Plus in 6-seater captain seat avtaar or the Hector 5 seater.

The sales person spent enough time with us talking both cars in detail. We did a test drive of Hector 2021 DCT Sharp. True to the reviews here, it doesn't excite you but is not a laggard too. It's the car which looks like a SUV but doesn't drive like one. It would be fair to say, it does not behave differently than how my typical city driving style is so wasn't a real downer really.

Wife loved the space, both in the middle seat and also at the boot. Kids were blown over by all the bells and whistles it has to offer. That Tesla style central unit (they have seen a lot of pics of mine enjoying that for a short time I drove Tesla in US), the super cool sunroof, the ventilated seats, the voice commands. The list just goes on. The car feels super sturdy and strongly built too.

We left the showroom with a promise that we would decide between Hector Plus 6 seater (it looks amazing in that Sepia Brown interiors plus the charm of captain seats for kids) or Hector 5 seater which was a more practical choice for us. Both cars in Sharp variant would exceed 2 million mark on road by 50 grand and 150 grand respectively.

What followed was my extensive search online and offline on what could be wrong with Hector. I am not going to get into Chinese pedigree, the risk of them leaving the country etc. But what was one of the biggest put off was the reported FE of 6 to 7 for Hector AT. I, or for that matter anyone can, stretch their budget one time to buy the car they like. But once that joy of new car is over, the pain of emptying your pockets every time you get a tank full (which you would do a lot more given the FE) will make you disappointed or angry or felt cheated or all of them in the longer run.

That being a major consideration , there goes the Hector too. Or so I think.

Tata Harrier

In comes the most loved car from Tata stable. Design wise, its a personal choice between Hector and Harrier. Suffice to say both have a fan following. The space is slightly more in Hector (bigger boot etc.) . The reason I wasn't actively pursuing this car was the niggling issues I keep on reading on this and other forums. However, I am also aware that just like XUV500, the car will keep on improving and the later you buy the better fit and finish it would be minus the niggles (hopefully).

I was reading for many months that Tata might release Gravitas (eventually Safari) with their newly developed Petrol engine and when that happens the same option could be available for Harrier too. Alas, the Safari launched without the petrol variant so I don't see any near future possibility of a Harrier with a petrol engine.

I called Tata showroom and requested for a TD at my place. The SA came with the car (it was XZA Dark Edition car) and we test drove it. The car has identical cabin space to offer as the Hector albeit with a considerably smaller boot. This being a higher capacity Diesel power house, does definitely drives more spiritedly than the Hector Petrol AT. Of course, returns a much better fuel efficiency too.

Between the Hector and the Harrier, has to be said Harrier is better equipped in the first row and the dashboard. Not that Harrier is ugly or bad, its just not up there. Take that odd looking hand brake for example. Bottom line, not much to not like but not too much to wow too.

The top line cost me 23 lacs something and the next best (XZA) cost me about 21 lacs. What I miss out on is the sunroof (kids love it and for me its good if its there. If not, am not gonna miss it), electrical adjusted driver seat and things like that.

I can live with the top but one variant in a higher price than the top variant Hector, but and a big BUT is its a diesel. I am not the one who changes cars very often. I drove a middle 2000 technology car for 11 years. I am sure a late 20's technology car would last / should last much longer. But being in NCR, I would have no choice but to replace it in 10 years max. 10 years from now is a long time. While I certainly do not know what or how it could be, but I know for a fact that I would be needing a lot of money for other things. Would I be willing to take a big chunk out of it to spend on another car? Of course it would be impossible to settle for a small hatch back once you get used to a size. Bottom line, I am not very sure if I want a Diesel.

Honda City

In comes Honda City. To think of it there is not even another car available anymore. I would have loved to upgrade to a "better" sedan if there was a choice. I in fact started my search looking for one. My person opinion is, if I want a SUV, I will buy a SUV. Everything else listed above is pseudo. However, no SUV is available unless your budget is 30 lacs (conservatively ) and close to 40 if you need a fully loaded. I obviously do not have a budget like that.

Coming back to Sedans. You have City, Verna, Rapid, Civic (over priced for what it offers over city?) or Elantra and Vento (dated). And that's just about it.

Verna was rejected by wife within a couple of minutes of us being in the show room. The car doesn't have much going its way from size to storage space to looks (personal choice) etc. City on the other hand is a difficult car to say no to. The ever established assurance of quality, the cult following, beautifully designed, best boot space, Safety (e.g. 6 airbags on top variant), a perfect AT, costing a good 5 lacs less than Hectors and Harriers of the world.

BUT, the feeling that you get is that you are moving away from a car that has gotten old to a new car. There is no sense of class upgrade. It plays on your mind that the car you are buying has been around for 20+ years (facelifts aside) and most importantly, and trust me it does, feels like you are forced to buy this car because there are no alternatives available and not because you liked this the best amongst all others.


If you have come thus far, I can not thank you enough. I know it has been a long post. But if you have, I am sure you concur with the notion that I have developed that if you are out in the market with a 2 Million budget, you dont get a car which ticks all the boxes. Harrier doesnt have petrol and Hector doesnt have Diesel automatic for example. One car gives you a lot of features but is either new or lacks on other things the other car just simply feels over priced (case in point Harrier or Compass).

Thanks to New.Novice once again! Check out BHPian comments for more insights & information.

Therefore, while I am still undecided which one it is going to be, I thought I will initiate this discussion here and pick on the mind of more "tuned" people. How I wish we have choice of competent sedans between 15 to 20 lacs, I would have not even considered a crossover and would have waited for my finances to meet the threshold of a true blue SUV. Alas, that's not the case and doesn't seem to get any better any time soon. Unless some of you know if a real good contender is coming any time soon?

Thanks to New.Novice once again! Check out BHPian comments for more insights & information.

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