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Hatchback under Rs 10 lakh: Need a safe & feature-rich car for my wife

We've had the Tata Nano & Safari, hence, would like to experience a car from a different manufacturer.

BHPian vigneshkumar31 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Primary Requirement

A small compact hatch that is feature-rich and offers modern creature comforts for city duties.

Primary Driver

Wife.

I would rate her as a good driver (even when she’s not listening). So she’s trustworthy behind the wheel. Has managed a Figo Titanium before in long term and is comfortable with hatchbacks. Has been ‘designated driver’ of choice for safe return, post many a blurry night. She’s however uncomfortable with clutchless cars and might need to get used to automatics. She did struggle with SPresso AMT we have at my parents’ home and avoided switching places when we went intercity on a Creta AT. She loves fresh, good interiors and premium appointments.

After the Figo sale, there has been a long hiatus with respect to the second car in the house as requirements and situations didn’t demand one.

This year we felt we do need a small car for the wife again, for some occasional work-related travel, school drops, market runs, etc. within the city. We didn’t think about it much and as a stop-gap, for the last 6 months, we have been managing with a pre-owned Swift. Basic and gets the job done. We have to let it go though due to unavoidable reasons.

Secondary Driver

Me.

I’m an SUV guy and have preferred large ladder frames over low slung sedans. I’ve been driving the first generation Storme since its launch and have not yet found a worthy replacement for it. But that’s a different thread altogether. Ergo, I’m not a hatch guy and have not been following hatches, especially the interesting launches recently.

Driving the Swift again, returning to hatches after long, I’m suddenly reminded of the pleasures of a small car. Meandering through small lanes and tiny parking slots give me a joy I seem to have missed with my burly Safari. I’m also guilty of the long-forgotten feeling that only zippy petrols give.

Family Requirement

As a family, we have started to feel the requirement of a new car. We would like to invest in the safety options available today which were unheard of in our previous cars. Nice features and well-appointed interiors are sorely missed.

In our pursuit for the next car, I stick with my SUV requirements and my wife's pro-small hatches as she finds big burly SUVs intimidating.

Cars have become obscenely expensive and I had been planning that the next car could be a one-car-do-all for the family and so I should go for a premium well-built SUV laden with features which probably both of us can drive, meeting each other in the middle. Maybe something like the Compass. But eyes watered after seeing what it costs on road today.

And with one car doing all, the advantage of having two independent cars at a time is lost and one of us would have to always compromise or suffer.

Two cars make sense. So we figured we go in for a new small hatch for her with all creature comforts while I continue to hunt for bare-bones SUVs when the time and option comes to replace Storme. Probably I could do even the preowned route also for the next large depreciating SUV since we would have a solid new small car in the family for primary duties. This also relegates my SUV to secondary status and I can compromise family and plush requirements, thus bringing the price down of the SUV when we get there and get away with a heart purchase. (see where I’m sneakily going with this?)

So the hatch it is now. I would request for user inputs and expert opinions from our Team-BHP community to help me wade through these unchartered A, B segment waters.

Checklist

Classified as Vital - Essential - Desirable

Vital

  • Safe car - Good safety track record. While absolute perfect 5 GNCAP stars may not be vital, we would like to steer away from zero star tin cans with known crumple tendencies.
  • Good build - This segment no more belongs exclusively to budget players. Some good solid cars have entered the ring making it exciting.
  • Premium interiors - We want the car to feel like a luxury barge (relative to the segment) This is key to keep the car fresh and make us feel like a worthy upgrade.
  • Features - We hold cars for a long. Future proof features which would help us hold the car longer and not go out of date in 3 years are vital.
  • Driver seat adjust and ergonomics - I’m tall and my wife is short. So height adjust and a possibility to work the ergos for both of us is vital. She should be able to see all around in her highest and closest driving position and I should be able to manage to slide the seat back and sit low. I can manage without complaints (as always) if it’s tight for me but the car should be biased towards helping a shorter driver get the best driving position.

Essential

  • Size - As compact as possible to park and putter around effortlessly. Don’t unnecessarily want to move up to a compact sedan with a tiny boot as we don’t need it and the price should be kept in check. Hence hatch will do. Also, let’s not go the hatch on stilts/pretend SUV way and splurge money on altitude, please.
  • Transmission - It would be nice to have an automatic which looks precisely advantageous for this particular use case. But since my wife is comfortable with manual, and it would help keep the price in check, I’m open to stick shift also.
  • Features - those good to have features that cost a bomb in a large car have trickled down to hatches and can be experienced at an affordable price bracket. That’s what we’re gunning for. So pump up the feature list, please. Are there sunroof hatches I wonder?
  • Engine - Not particular about diesel/petrol. A good motor married to the gearbox is all we need. If petrol keeps the overall purchase cost in check then would prefer petrol as the other large car would be diesel. Break-even despite costlier petrol cost/litre is not valid as running would be low.
  • Wife is a sedate driver and doesn’t corner carve. She was very happy when she got a speeding ticket on the expressway once and counts it as a lifetime adventure experience.
  • As I’m the secondary driver, an FTD hatch would be an added bonus for occasional grins.
  • Fuss-free ownership - I want one car in the family to be fuss-free and not popping surprises now and then, or requiring constant visits to the service center to fix a faulty bulb here or a failed sensor there. Sorted, niggle free experience, please.

Desirable

  • Body exterior - Has to tick the ‘chick hatch’ box in terms of style and colour. So good looks from the ladies’ perspective will win brownie points. Doesn’t matter if I will have to cover my face driving a pista green hatch. Should also enjoy bragging rights amongst the lady friends gang meeting up on weekday afternoons which seems to be a new thing I can’t comprehend (and wisely I keep shut).
  • New car - Let’s not go the preowned route because at the budget and considering we would like to keep the car long and also need this to be fuss-free ownership (all headaches are reserved for my next SUV probably).
  • Pedigree - Can we sneak in a European experience at this budget? I’m a Skoda type guy when it comes to interiors and clever features. And it would be nice to have that German feel in our garage. Again since it’s a smaller car I can afford to maintain it rather than say, a larger Kodiaq perhaps.
  • Manufacturer - We've had the Nano and the Safari so Tata’s been there, done that. Would desire a new better A.S.S experience from other makers but if the winner of this battle is Tata, then not averse to the idea of going again to Tata either. I’m open to any Indian, Korean, European worth its salt.
  • Budget - 10lacs Ex-showroom. Ambitious and greedy? Maybe. But I trust the community to find me a diamond in the rough.

Here's what BHPian abhishek46 had to say about the matter:

You may consider the Altroz iTurbo XZ+. It is a good combination of Snazzy Styling, Solid 5-Star Build & Adequate Power. It is adequately loaded too, with respect to features.

Here's what BHPian smileline had to say about the matter:

Considering your requirements you can check Polo GT TSI automatic. It will age well, it has a good safety rating and will be easy to manoeuvre.

Let her test drive all the cars.

Here's what BHPian DogNDamsel12 had to say about the matter:

Sorry for my inability to write an unbiased review!

I drive a Polo 1.2 MPI - and in the category of hatchbacks could not have asked for more. The Polo 1.0 MT TSI may be worth a shot subject to your test driving it - I have not test driven it to know.

The Polo ticks off most of the stuff on your checklist, except maybe the long-term ownership part. My individual experience is that my 1.2 MPI is extremely fuss-free - just an annual run to the workshop, that's all. Though I have seen reviews of some injector failures etc., which personally I have never experienced.

A comprehensive B2B insurance and the extended warranty for sure are mandatory. Parts are way more expensive in comparison to most Indian or Japanese brands.

In terms of driving experience, handles well on curves, bad roads, aquaplanes etc. without any of the tyres lifting off that easily - extremely planted. Easy to manoeuvre in crowded marketplaces and very easy to park. Personally, I am a fan of smart, no-nonsense design. Good boot-space. And cannot say enough - safe, safe, very safe!

Have owned a Polo previously (2013 model) - that car had a great low end. Have been in an accident in that one that could have been fatal in most of the other cars, but managed to come out on the other side almost without a scratch. When I tried to replace the car, fresh out of a traumatic experience, I could not make myself like anything else apart from another VW and that too a Polo primarily for my usage of taking it to work every day as well as pick up groceries etc.

The top-end on this one is good, low-end feels different in that I have to step on the gas much sooner after leaving the clutch on an incline - I will leave it up to the pundits to explain why, but this one has a better fuel economy (seen 15 on city roads).

In terms of service, the Kolkata service center (one of them that I have used so far) is as bad as how great the Delhi one was. They don't have parts and they have no respect for timelines to finish a job - but the experience might be totally different wherever you are.

Good luck with your hunt - and hope she has fun driving!

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