A car for my cousin which ticks most boxes | Budget 8.5 lakhs

Until then, I have visited various dealers and tried out the models which are within the price range.

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My cousin has been driving a 2003 WagonR handed down from his brother for over a decade now. He is now looking for an upgrade from the WagonR for himself and his wife. They have a budget of around Rs. 8 lakhs max (stretchable to 8.5) OTR Bangalore. Being a car enthusiast, I decided to help him in his purchase decision by researching the various models and making recommendations. When he shifts back to Bangalore this month, we will go for test drives. Until then, I have visited various dealers and tried out the models which are within the price range.

Safety Aspect

A key aspect in this purchase decision is safety. This is because a few close relatives had died in a road accident a couple of years back. Based on this requirement, I have removed the following cars from consideration (NCAP Rating in Brackets):

  • Maruti Wagon R (2 Stars)
  • Maruti Ignis (3 Stars)
  • Maruti Swift/Dzire (2 Stars)
  • Hyundai i10/Aura (2 Stars)

This left us with the following models:

  • Tata – Tiago, Tigor, Altroz
  • Honda – Amaze, Jazz
  • Nissan – Magnite
  • Renault – Kiger
  • Ford – Figo, Freestyle
  • VW – Polo
  • Maruti – Baleno

Intended Usage

Normally, the vehicle would have been used primarily for the office commute and the occasional outstation trip. With Covid and work-from-home becoming a staple, commuting should be lower. I tried to convince him for an Automatic, but he is most comfortable with a Manual.

Features to Consider

Given that the WagonR was pretty bare-bones in terms of features (no central locking, manual windows etc), we are definitely looking for a well-featured car. Here are some of the features which I would consider essential:

Safety Features

2 Airbags, ABS+EBD, Rear Window Defogger, Wash and Wipe, Day/Night IRVM

Comfort and Convenience

Stereo System with 4 Speakers, Steering mounted controls, Electrically foldable ORVMs, Rear Parking Sensors, One Touch Auto Up/Down Drivers Window

Of course, I would prefer more features if possible, like Automatic Climate Control, Touchscreen stereo with Android Auto, Remote Keyless Entry, Rear Parking Camera etc. But those are nice-to-haves. If we can fit them within budget, great. Also, the car has to be available in grey colour.

Active vs Passive Safety – Is NCAP Everything?

Initially, they were very enthusiastic about the Tata Altroz since it is the only 5 star NCAP car in consideration. But, I thought, there is more to safety than just passive safety, which NCAP tests. Rather, I wanted to also look at active safety, which means avoiding the accident.

For that, it meant having a powerful engine (for quicker, safer overtakes), good sized tyres (for braking), good visibility front and back, features like Day/Night IRVM, Rear Defogger, Fog Lamps, Traction Control, ESP etc.

Also, reliability and peace of mind when servicing are important factors. Normally, I would just say Maruti since me and my relatives have had good experiences with a Baleno saloon, 800, A-Star and this WagonR. But with the recent threads on team-bhp, it seems like Maruti’s quality is deteriorating.

Of course, the other contenders have their own issues and reputations to consider as well.

Visiting each dealer, trying out the car and my observations (Contenders are listed from Lowest to Highest Price OTR Bangalore):

As my cousin is relocating this month, I spent the last few weeks visiting various dealers and trying out the cars to get an initial impression. Of course, the test drives would be left to him, since it is ultimately he who would be driving the car and he has to find it suitable for his requirements. All prices listed here are inclusive of the extended warranty, something I recommend he gets, less any current discounts available.

Tata Tiago (XZ/XZ+)


  • XZ: 7.45 lakhs – 15k cash discount – 10k exchange bonus
  • XZ+: 7.79 lakhs – 15 k cash discount – 10k exchange bonus

Waiting Period: 6 – 8 weeks



  • Good solid feel
  • Very well equipped with all safety features
  • 4 star NCAP Rating
  • Relatively good rearward visibility compared
  • The cheapest car here
  • Good sound system


  • That three cylinder engine is definitely the noisiest and most vibration filled of all the cars under consideration
  • 6 month service interval is annoying
  • I went to two Tata dealers, and the service levels were poor in each case. The salesperson was not interested in showing me the cars in one location, and was busy chatting with his friends while showing me the car in another
  • Boot space is relatively small at 242 litres

Nissan Magnite (XL/XV/XL Turbo)


  • 1.0 XL: 7.36 lakhs (No offers)
  • 1.0 XV: 8.17 lakhs
  • XL Turbo: 8.53 lakhs

Waiting Period: 4-5 months



  • Great VFM, for the same price as a Tiago you get a well-specced XL model with most essential features
  • 4 Star NCAP Rating
  • Feels solid and roomy with a big boot
  • 1.0 Turbo engine version should be fast enough for most highway jaunts


  • A big gamble with Nissan’s after-sales and support (as per their reputation, team bhp and google reviews)
  • Huge waiting period
  • The 1.0 engine may not be powerful enough to be sprightly on the highway
  • Heavy clutch and notch gear lever
  • Dealer was not very enthusiastic, I guess the success of the Magnite has gone into their heads
  • Doesn’t come in grey (though the dark brown looks quite good)

Renault Kiger RXL/RXT


  • RXL: 7.54 lakhs (No offers)
  • RXT: 8.09 lakhs

Waiting Period: 2-3 months


  • Like the Magnite, a lot of car for the money
  • 4 Star NCAP Rating (should be since it is the Magnites sister car)
  • Renault’s after sales should be better than Nissan’s


  • Same as the Magnite regarding the engine, clutch and gearshift
  • Is less feature packed while costing more
  • Only available in a light grey colour

Tata Tigor XZ/XZ+


  • XZ: 8.15 lakhs – 15k cash discount – 15k exchange bonus
  • XZ+: 8.90 lakhs – 15k cash discount – 15k exchange bonus

Waiting Period: 8-10 weeks


  • Basically a stretched Tiago with a huge boot
  • 4 Star NCAP Rating


  • That three cylinder engine is definitely the noisiest and most vibration filled of all the cars under consideration
  • 6 month service interval is annoying
  • Rear visbility is worse than the Tiago
  • The XZ+ is priced in Altroz territory

Maruti Baleno Delta/Zeta


  • Delta: 8.04 lakhs – 7.5k cash discount – 10k exchange offer
  • Zeta: 8.79 lakhs – 7.5 k cash discont – 10k exchange offer

Waiting Period: 2-4 weeks


  • NEXA sales experience was the best among all dealers
  • The K12 engine is smooth, refined and powerful
  • Very well featured, with the Delta variant having Auto Climate Control, Remote Keyless Entry, Rear Defogger, Wash Wipe
  • Maruti’s after-sales and service network


  • Definitely feels the lightest of all cars in this comparison
  • 3 Star Euro NCAP Rating
  • Relatively Poor rear visibility
  • Crowded service centers

Ford Figo Titanium Blu/Freestyle Titanium


  • Figo Titanium Blu: 8.78 Lakhs – 15k cash discount
  • Freestyle Titanium: 8.78 lakhs -20k cash discount

Waiting Period: 2-4 weeks


  • Powerful 95 bhp engine
  • Titanium Blu comes with 6 Airbags, Freestyle comes with Traction Control, ESP
  • A couple of relatives have Ecosports and are happy with Ford’s after-sales
  • Good 190mm clearance for the Freestyle


  • Questions about Ford’s long term-commitment to India (want to avoid a repeat of the Chevrolet situation)
  • Not as solid as I thought it would be
  • Missing features for the price like Android Auto, Rear Washer (Freestyle), Rear Parcel Tray etc.
  • Small boot at 256 litres

Honda Amaze S

Price: 8.48 lakhs – 12.5k cash discount – 10k exchange offer

Waiting Period: 2 – 4 weeks


  • Smooth and refined engine and gearbox
  • Good cabin ergonomics and visibility
  • Huge boot space


  • Worried about in-city driveability due to poor low-end torque
  • No rear defogger
  • Only Honda service center nearby Whitefield has poor google reviews
  • Feels reasonably well built but not solid like the Tatas and VW

Tata Altroz XM+/XT


  • XM+: 8.29 Lakhs (No offers)
  • XT: 8.92 Lakhs

Waiting Period: 8 – 10 weeks


  • 5 Star NCAP Rating
  • Feels solid and well built
  • Good highway stability


  • Unrefined 3 cylinder engine
  • Missing features like Day/Night IRVM (XM+), Rear Defogger and wash wipe (both variants), Rear Speakers (XM+), One Touch Down Power Window (XM+)
  • The XT is well featured but is close to Rs. 9 lakhs, a bit of a stretch for my cousins budget
  • Rear visibility is abysmal, according to me
  • New Tata product, so don’t trust its track record, unlike Tiago and Tigor

Volkswagen Polo Turbo

Price: 8.58 Lakhs (No offers)

Waiting Period: 2-3 months


  • Feels very solid, esp the ways the door close with a thunk
  • Powerful turbo-petrol engine
  • Good highway manners


  • Is an 11 year old model
  • VW’s after sales and service
  • Is lacking certain essential features like Steering mounted audio controls, rear power window controls for driver, Electrically foldable ORVMs

Honda Amaze V

Price: 9.34 lakhs – 15k cash discount – 15k exchange bonus

Waiting Period: 2-4 weeks


  • Huge amount of space and good visibility
  • Good cabin ergonomics
  • Smooth refined engine
  • Reputation for reliability
  • 4 Star NCAP Rating


  • Is definitely a stretch for the budget
  • Whitefield Honda’s after-sales has poor reviews
  • Missing features like auto-foldable ORVMs, Android Auto for the price
  • Poor A/C Performance
  • 6 Month service interval is annoying


Personally, I think coming from the WagonR, the Jazz would be the best upgrade, since it is an effortless city commuter with good visibility and large windows. Of course, it is not really VFM, for those there are the Tata Tiago and Nissan Magnite. The Magnite and Kiger are good but may be dropped since they are relatively new products and the poor after-sales service. I like the Ford twins, but they lack boot space. The Baleno is the most VFM, but its light build and 3 Star NCAP Rating are big negatives. The Polo is something for the heart rather than the head. The Tigor and Amaze are good, but I feel they are relatively light on features compared to the hatchbacks. The Altroz is sturdy, but lacks the good engine for the price.

What would you recommend from these choices, based on safety, reliability, ease of driving and general overall quality and after-sales?

Check out BHPian comments more insights and information.

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