Rs 15 lakh budget: Looking for a reliable automatic crossover

Tata Motors & Mahindra don’t offer automatic transmission options otherwise I would’ve bought the Nexon or the XUV300 in a blink of an eye.

BHPian headbanger recently shared this with other enthusiasts.


I see myself as the common mango man - my choices and decision making follow the pattern of how the broader middle class thinks and makes choices, right from phones to cars.

Current Garage

I have 3 Marutis, all of them are petrol - each one of them being the primary car for me, my brother and my father. The cars keep getting revolved among us three. The three cars are 2010 Ritz Vxi (1.7L on odo), 2011 Dzire Vxi (1.2L on odo) and 2019 Swift Vxi (30k on Odo).

All of the cars are driven in NCR and hence, wear scars on the exterior. All are mechanically sorted and are highway ready. I spend INR 3k-3.5k on minor service schedule (10k/30k/50k/...) and INR 5k max for major service schedule (20k/40k/60k/...). All said and done, even if I include the yearly insurance premium, the older 2 cars incur some paise above a rupee per km.

My extended family has an Innova, Polo 1.6 Tdi, Sonet GTX+ D AT and Seltos HTK+ D AT with the last 2 additions in the last 18 months. I have driven all of these cars reasonably well - say at least 5k km for each car.

Original Requirement

I wanted a high seated, safe, automatic car that can seat 5 folks comfortably without compromising peace of mind under 15L OTR. Let me just put the requirements in chronological order of importance:

  • Peace of Mind
  • Safety
  • High Seated
  • Automatic (should not be AMT)
  • Budget - 15L OTR
  • Can seat 5 comfortably (Preference only, I can live with 4 seats as well if budget <15l OTR)

I can play with the last 2 points here.


70% Highway, 30% City and 15k km/year

Analysis Paralysis

Cars in Auto trim rejected:

  • Maruti Ciaz / Honda City - Too LOW
  • Maruti XL6/Maruti S Cross - Too S-L-O-W. Lethargic at best. 0-90kmph tools.
  • Rapid / Polo/ Vento - Too low.
  • Kushaq - Can't compromise peace of mind for sake of perceived physical safety. Was a heartbreak, not only how it was priced but also how it is being defended in spite of stalling all around the place. My existing rickety cars never ever stall on any road despite their shortcomings. Zac Hollis is not my relative either that I can depend upon him in the longer run.
  • Venue - Sonet is the better one.
  • XUV700 - Too big though I loved every bit of it. For me, it's a highway tool. I will need to get a Wagon R replacing my existing Ritz along with it.
  • Kiger/Magnite - Poor dealer network/Shabby practices. Loss of peace of mind.

Cars in contention (with compromise):

  • Sonet D AT- (unknown safety - still no crash testing)
  • Creta/Seltos D AT or Petrol IVT - (a 20L car with a 3-star crash rating)
  • Astor Petrol CVT - Outside chance. Only if push comes to shove- Political overtures for not subscribing to MG.

Although I live in NCR, I can consider either fuel for this purchase if there is a strong reason. 1.5 D with Torque Converter is only in the picture because it is a match made in heaven.

Closing Quotes

At the start, I never thought that I will compromise on safety. But here I am - choosing between peace of mind and safety rating.

I simply can't donate peace of mind of ownership - read VAG/Skoda cars. Please don't recommend me these cars, I am not that niche segment intelligentsia. Sit with me and I can explain 100 pros and cons of Maruti cars but can't understand why should I plan my trips with the search of RON 95 fuel pumps.

Tata and Mahindra don't have pure automatics, else I would have bought Nexon or XUV300 in a blink. I can raise the budget by 25%, but even then I can't find a car that ticks at least 80% of my requirements.

The remorse is that I will end up owning a car which may lack the very basic tenet of safety from where I started thinking of a new purchase.

What should I do? Make the purchase and take a leap of faith OR sit on the fence.

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

I will not suggest the Sonet, simply because it is neither wide enough to seat 3 at the back, nor can it be considered safe. It is not crash tested, and Hyundai/Kia’s record on safety in India has been abysmal.

I will also urge you to reconsider the XL6 and S Cross. Speed limits are strictly enforced on all highways connecting Delhi-NCR and are never more than 100kmph. In that sense, performance at 100+ speeds is a moot point.

Again, my impression of the ZS EV is that the rear bench is not wide enough to seat 3, and the suspension tune isn’t conducive to highway driving. Typically bouncy and unsettled rear. Astor being essentially the same car cannot be significantly better.

XUV700 is too new/unproven to be considered by anyone prioritising peace of mind.

I suggest you choose between the S Cross and Kiger/Magnite. Do test drive the Nexon. It has the AMT, but otherwise, it is perfectly suited for your requirements. An offbeat option can be the Mahindra Thar. It seats 4, is proven safe, has an excellent engine and automatic and is well within your budget. It is small enough to be your wife’s daily driver, my wife loved it. Plus, it enjoys excellent resale and will continue to do so for the next few years, demand is so high.

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

Firstly, a very well thought through and laid-out post. Thanks for that. Since you are very clear on what you want and do not want, I don't think you have much of a choice. You want a high seating vehicle, you are clear you don't want a VAG group car, you don't want an AMT. So this basically removes the Kushaq, Taigun, Nexon, XUV300 etc. Peace of mind is most important, so the Renaults and Nissans are questionable and the MG is new. Maruti does not have a good option in the segment nor does Honda - so two brands associated with peace of mind are out of the reckoning.

The only x-factor here is the XUV700 which may meet all of your requirements but may need you to swap another car to have a smaller runabout. But again need to keep in mind the first iteration of any product will have niggles and we can expect that with the XUV700 too.

While safety is important to you, peace of mind scores higher, so that basically leaves the Creta, Seltos, Venue and Sonet. Together these sell 40-50,000 units a month. You have said you also go with the masses. So I guess there is no need for confusion. Sonet and Venue are smaller and definitely will not meet the 5 seater requirement.

So the winners are clear- Creta or Seltos.

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

I have the exact same dilemma right now. Maybe if you wait a bit, Kia will launch a new Seltos with a better safety rating. They're sure to see sales plummeting sooner or later because of the 3-star rating. The fact is that there are very few 4 or 5-star rated cars in India, and most are not in this segment.

The VW/Skoda crossovers, the Harrier/Safari, the XUV700, Sonet/Venue, and S-cross have not been crash-tested. You can even be sure that the Harrier/Safari will not get 5 stars because Tata promptly sent its Punch for the test, but hasn't sent either of them. If safety matters that much, you can get a Nexon, XUV300, or Thar, they're the only crossover/SUV cars with good test results (off the top of my head).

None of your current cars would (most likely) get any stars in the crash test and you've driven them plenty, so if you are happy to give a safety a toss, you could get a Seltos/Creta turbo petrol and enjoy the car without losing your head over breakdowns and the like.

Here's what BHPian Axe77 had to say about the matter:

If you are open to diesel then I think the Sonet Diesel A/T is your top choice in that segment.

Your second choice could be the Sonet Petrol A/T, top of the line but mind you, it's a DCT.

Third choice: I would actually put the MG Astor in case your political leanings are malleable in the interest of the optimum choice.

As an outside contender, depending on your infrastructure as well as the ballpark range of your highway driving, I would say the Nexon EV is also worth putting on that list. While color is a personal preference, I do think the Dark Edition is killer looking.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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