Need advice: Looking for a fun to drive AT car in Rs. 12.5 lakh budget

The car has to be reasonably fun to drive (need not be a scorcher) but not necessarily a boy racer.

BHPian DCEite recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

One of my friends is in the market for a vehicle with budget upto 12.5 lakhs ex showroom.

He is upgrading from a Renault Triber and he also has a Tata Nexon Petrol AMT (driven mainly by wife) in the garage.

His main requirements are as follows:

  • Budget strictly upto maximum of 12.5 lakhs ex showroom.
  • Prefers Maruti because of proximity of service centers, But is open to other manufacturers as well.
  • The car has to be reasonably fun to drive (need not be a scorcher) but not necessarily a boy racer.
  • The car has to have 6 Airbags.
  • Manual gearshift is Ok for him but if something falls with a goot AT in this budget, he is open for it.
  • Segment is not decided. It could be anything from a premium hatchback to a compact SUV or a C segment sedan.

Based on his requirements, I have suggested him the Honda City V MT which would just touch his budget and upcoming Maruti FronX Zeta AT.

With the City V MT, he gets:

A decent engine (not sure if it could be called FTD in today's age, being NA), Honda's reliability and ample space. What he does not get is an AT transmission, 6 Airbags (AFAIK V model comes with 4 Airbags only) and perhaps an aftersales experience at par with Maruti/Hyundai. And the fact that Honda's future in India might not be very certain at this point of time.

With the FronX Zeta AT, he'll get:

6 Airbags, AT transmission and Turbo petrol engine. Now, the thing is not much is known about Boosterjet's performance in the new Zeta AT, but I am guessing it should be reasonably fun to drive even with the AT transmission. Then there is Maruti's after sales. What he loses out on is the overall space inside the cabin and boot space which is not very impressive, a crossover hatchback on "stilts" rather than a proper Sedan or SUV, and the fact that safety ratings (even with 6 airbags) is an unkown with the Baleno/FronX platform as it has not been tested yet by GNCAP.

Is there anything else worth recommending him at this point ?

Here's what BHPian IshaanIan had to say on the matter:

Ask him to check out the Baleno as well. The AMT is nothing to write home about but what I find is that sometimes when the gear ratios are well matched to the motor's power delivery and you've got a light clutch, the need for an automatic evaporates. I mean if the car makes it easy to do 20 all the way upto 60 in a single gear with more than enough pull throughout, then somehow the advantage of having an automatic diminishes. So do check out the Baleno manual to see if the gear ratios suit him well. The extended suspension travel in the facelifted model is also a big bonus when it comes to being able to carry speed and not brake too much over rough patches of road.

Here's what BHPian AYP had to say on the matter:

Do check out the Hyundai trio as well- i20, Venue and the Sonet.

You can get the i20 N Line DCT as well as the Sonet HTX for 12.xx ex-showroom. If your friend is willing to spend 50k extra, the Venue SX(O) DCT is also available. All these cars fit within the budget, are reasonably fun to drive, feature a quick shifting DCT and 2 of them have 6 airbags as well(the Sonet also has it in the GTX+ variant).

My advise to him would be that if he is even slightly inclined towards an automatic, he should definitely go for it otherwise, he may end up hijacking the Nexon AMT and the need for an upgrade shall come up sooner than later.

Though if your friend is absolutely fine with an MT, then he may go for the Virtus or the Slavia as well(50k above his budget though one can get some discounts). In stock form, these cars are a tad slower than the City but the turbo does give you the kick and a remap in the future shall take the power output to 140 Bhp with torque bein close to 230NM.

Here's what BHPian MotorDev had to say on the matter:

Hi, you can get the 2023 Verna SX MT at introductory prices if he books it now. Has a lot of features, loads of space, 6 airbags too. It will be a perfect fit for him.

In AT, Hyundai i20 N-Line DCT will be perfect for him. Has good space, feature loaded, and the convenience of an AT too.

These 2 are the best options for him, another option in AT would be the Amaze.

Here's what BHPian SixPistons had to say on the matter:

You should try the i20 NLine N8 DCT. I was so moved by the control(much improvement since previous Hyundais), the pickup and smooth NVH(even for a 3-pot) and the fine-tuned DCT that I booked one immediately after my test drive.

I had test driven the Manual(NA 1.2) , the iVT(NA 1.2) as well as the DCT (Turbo 1.0).

While the car definitely is boy racer material, driving with a light foot and rpms below 1500-1700 will give you a smooth city drive.

IVT NA 1.2 is a considerable option. Though the lethargy in that combination was killing me beyond a point really. Something feels missing while driving that(only my opinion; my 2016 Baleno MT petrol felt peppier) and that’s something you find in the Turbo 1.0 + DCT combination.

When I said control has improved since previous Hyundais, I was talking about Elite i20, Grand i10 and the likes.

Oh, and did I tell you the ex-showroom lies in the vicinity of 12,12,000. This is ex-showroom Delhi so you might find a good deal here as well.

Here's what BHPian Tanmay_868 had to say on the matter:

Considering the above requirements I would suggest Škoda Slavia and Kushaq Ambition variant.

Both come at 13 lakhs ex-showroom. But discounts are easily available.

In stock form too they are decently FTD.

But after 2-3 years you can go for a Remap. That will unlock the true potential of 1.0 TSI. Also aftermarket performance parts would be available easily for Škoda in contrast to others.

Also wait for Review of all new Verna to drop. Though Turbo variant would cross budget but have a look at the 1.5 MPI S(11 lakhs) or SX(12 lakhs).

Suggestion of Fronx is also good. But only in MT form.

IMO City wouldn’t fulfill the FTD criteria. It wouldn’t have the turbo Kick.

Have a look at XUV3OO TurboSport too. The W8 turbo comes at around 11.65 lakhs ex showroom. I hear it’s good.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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