Top 8 diesel MPVs under Rs 12 lakh

There are a lot many MPVs on sale in India now than ever. Which one is the best and where do the rest stand? Read our extensive report before your next MPV purchase

Top Eight diesel MPVs in India

For a country with the second largest population in the world, probably the most number of large families living together and the love for travel in groups, it’s surprising that the multipurpose vehicle segment hasn’t picked up like it should. But that was the case till about a few years ago. Now there are as many as eight MPVs you can buy under Rs 12 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi. So which is the best one to put your money on, weighing in all parameters?

We’ve researched MPVs on sale in India right to the variant and have come up with this list of top eight MPVs.

The Parameters: 

All cars were rated on a scale on 1-5 with 1 being poor and 5 being outstanding in each parameter.

Engine and Gearbox: 

We considered everything from driveability to refinement to NVH before deciding on the rating for the engine, while for the gearbox, things like shift quality and ease and progression of clutch actuation was looked into. 

Ride and Handling: 

In a market like India, wherein good roads are hard to come by, ride quality – at both low speed and high – is extremely important. But, just a plush ride isn’t enough; the ride shouldn’t be noisy or coupled with vibrations either. As for handling, we considered both ease of driving in the city and the car’s stability in a straight line, under braking, and around a corner.


The more the features, the better. Well, for most part. We also looked into the ease of using these features and not all features were given equal weightage. Features that are more useful, naturally, got a higher rating.

Fuel Economy:

Easily the most important buying criteria, we simply took ARAI quoted fuel economy figures to arrive at a score. The higher the kmpl figure, the higher the score.

Interior and Boot Space: 

An MPV’s USP is space. If you want to carry seven adults and a few bags, can the MPV gobble all up or does it become a tight squeeze? Less space scores less, more scores more.

Fun to Drive:

Fun to drive is the most subjective parameter here. But, also a crucial one. MPVs need to be mile munchers as they will mostly be summoned for long distance travel. It does help if the drive is involving to keep you entertained. And for an MPV to be fun to drive, everything from the engine and gearbox performance, to the steering feel and response, to the tyre grip and the overall handling prowess of the car were rated on. The cars that managed to put bigger smiles on our faces, scored higher.  

Top 8:

Toyota Innova is the most popular MPV in India

8. Toyota Innova G 

Score: 14.5/30

Don’t be surprised to see the Toyota Innova score the lowest in our list. The Innova is the most popular MPV ever to go on sale in India. Tour operators swear by its reliability and comfort but the Innova is a bit too long in the tooth now. In fact, it is due for a replacement by the end of the year and when the next generation Innova is introduced, we will have to revisit this list. It isn’t just age catching up with the Innova though. Compared to competition, the Innova is way too overpriced and you don’t get one under Rs 12 lakh. The base bare-bones basic G variant costs Rs 12.53 lakh but due to its popularity, we’ve included it here as a special mention.

The Innova has a massive 2.5-litre engine under its hood that dishes out an underwhelming 90PS of power. But those big cylinders burn a lot of fuel to churn very little power. Rated at an ARAI certified 12.5kmpl, the Innova it the thirstiest of the lot, returning almost half of what you get in the more powerful Mobilio. Ease of driving and space is where the Innova scores well though. Despite its heavy ladder frame chassis, the Innova’s car like dynamics will only make you wish it had a nippy engine under its hood. 

Chevrolet Enjoy is affordable but not a very highly rated MPV

7. Chevrolet Enjoy LTZ

Score: 17/30

The Chevrolet Enjoy caters to the budget end of the MPV segment like the Maruti Ertiga. The Enjoy in top LTZ trim costs just Rs 8.63 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi and for that price you get a whole lot of car. There is enough space for six adults in this version with captain seats, although the third row bench is a bit cramped. With the ubiquitous Fiat sourced 1.3-litre multijet engine under its hood, the Enjoy is a reliable commuter but the gearbox isn’t as slick and overall refinement levels aren’t up to the mark of the Maruti. The diesel mill pumps out only 77.5PS making it considerably underpowered compared to competition. Fit and finish is poor and high speed ride and stability a bit worrisome. 

On the features front, you get alloy wheels, power windows, two airbags, ABS with EBD, leatherette seats, audio system with four speakers and a height adjustable driver’s seat. The Enjoy then is decently equipped for its price. Practicality and value for money gets the Enjoy an up-vote but there are better MPVs further in this list to consider if you aren’t on a tight budget. 

Mahindra Xylo is much improved now but still no match for modern monocoque MPVs

6. Mahindra Xylo H9

Score: 17.5/30

Mahindra’s Xylo is the rather rugged and masculine entry to this list. It’s more crossover than MPV like the Tata Aria and the SUV like stance and driving characteristics draws away from the user friendly segment nature. The Xylo gets a strong 120PS/280Nm diesel engine also seen in the Scorpio. Mahindra has reworked the suspension in its recent updates which reduces the Xylo’s oscillatory behavior considerably. It handles with a lot more finesse than before too but can’t match other monocoque MPVs on sale in India.

The Xylo though is loaded with features like cruise control, follow me home headlamps, Bluetooth telephony, leather seats, parking assists and more. It’s also at the best a Xylo has ever been. Mahindra’s MPV isn’t very efficient though returning just 14.02kmpl in the ARAI tests. With the Company’s reach in terms of sales and service points and its bulletproof engine though, the Xylo is one for the long haul. 

Tata Aria is more affordable than before

5. Tata Aria Pure LX 4x2

Score: 18.5/30

If its acres of space and a strong engine for those highway cruises that you are looking for, the Tata Aria fits the bill perfectly. It is the most powerful MPV on sale in India with 150PS of power and 320Nm of torque from its 2.2-litre diesel mill. The Aria is an underachiever for Tata Motors despite being arguably the best engineered product from the homegrown carmaker. The biggest reason for the Aria’s poor sales has been the steep price but Tata has addressed this with the recent facelift. The Pure LX 4x2 Aria costs Rs 10.42 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi but since it is a base model, it’s woefully short on features.

Fuel economy for such a big car is passable, at least bettering its old school rivals, the Innova and the Xylo and the powerful engine means that while you aren’t burning as much fuel, you are comfortably cruising faster too. That it rides so well over bad roads aids to its strength as a highway car. Where the Aria disappoints is its handling, which because of the two tonnes of mass refuses to turn in as the speeds rise. Tyres lose grip soon and quick direction changes are tough to execute. Buy the Aria if you want a highway star, but there are better alternatives if you visit the hills often.

Maruti Suzuki Ertiga is a strong seller due to its value for money package

4. Maruti Suzuki Ertiga ZDI

Score: 19/30

There is very little Maruti does wrong in the small car segment but when the manufacturer has tried to sell a car closer to the Rs 10 lakh sticker price, chances of its success have been slim. Sure the Ciaz is doing well now but it all kick-started for Maruti with the Ertiga. Because Maruti stuck to the basics of a mechanically sound affordable car formula with its MPV, the Ertiga has been a strong seller. The Ertiga diesel in particular, is powered by the Fiat powered 1.3-litre Multijet diesel but unlike the Enjoy which also sports the same engine, this one develops 90PS thanks to the variable geometry turbocharger in the Maruti.

The diesel mill though is not as potent as we’d like and the turbo lag gets annoying while driving in the city or overtaking when you need quick bursts of power. The Ertiga like many modern MPVs is based on small car underpinnings, the Swift in this case. It handles well for an MPV but does have plenty of roll when chucked into corners. Light steering and small dimensions make it easy to drive though, one of the reasons why the Ertiga is popular among people who drive more in the City than out on highways. The ZDI trim is well equipped with two airbags, ABS with EBD, alloy wheels, steering mounted audio controls, driver seat height adjustment and an audio system. The Ertiga doesn’t get parking sensors, Bluetooth telephony, climate control or a touchscreen multimedia system, features that a few carmakers are now offering with the MPV.

Nissan Evalia scores a strong third position in our top eight MPVs list

3. Nissan Evalia XV (O)

Score: 20/30

Nissan’s Evalia truly is the Jack of all trades and the master of space. There is just way too much space in the perfectly cubical cabin to move houses with its total storage capacity of a whopping 2900 litres after the second and third rows folded flat. It is easy to load too due to the sliding doors and low loading lip. So if you want a packer and mover, the Evalia is the MPV for you. Powering the Evalia is the 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine that also runs the Micra, Sunny and Terrano. In the Evalia, it returns 19.3kmpl which is quite good for an MPV. In this XV (O) trim, the Evalia gets 15 inch alloy wheels to the standard 14 inch puny steel wheels on other variants and it also gets captain seats for the second row. Equipment levels on the whole are quite good too.

The Evalia is also easy to drive due to its light controls and good visibility off the driver’s seat. The engine runs out of steam with a full load as you only get the 85PS version of the K9K with the Evalia. Ride quality is poor with no load due to the leaf spring rear suspension but load the Evalia with adults or cargo and the MPV begins to ride better. Up till the Evalia, MPVs in this list aren’t as impressive as we would have liked but the top two are head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. Read on…

Honda Mobilio RS is a looker and a good all round package too

2. Honda Mobilio RS (O)

Score: 24.5/30

Under Rs 12 lakh, you get the top end Mobilio V (O) trim and you can also go one better with the Mobilio RS (O). The RS (O) besides all the features of the V(O) variant, also gets you a unique body kit, which in our view, does make the Mobilio stand out in the rather boring MPV segment. Top that up with a ridiculously fuel efficient diesel engine (24.5kmpl) and you’ve got a good looking MPV that’s very affordable to run. Coming to the diesel mill, it’s the 1.5-litre i-DTEC unit that develops 100PS of power. The engine is adequate for highway runs and the gearbox is slick too. It isn’t the sprightliest on offer but does the job well enough. Honda offers plenty of kit with the Mobilio including the now standard across the Honda range, touchscreen multimedia system. 

The Mobilio is built on the Brio/Amaze platform and shares a majority of components with them. Plenty of the Brio’s fun to drive character trickles down into the Mobilio, which despite the size and three rows of seats, handles with a finesse that none can match in the MPV segment. The Mobilio is nimble on its feet and rides well too but the light weight MPV doesn’t feel as planted in a straight line as the winner of this list.

The winner of this top eight MPVs report is the hugely competent Renault Lodgy

1.Renault Lodgy RxZ

Score: 25/30

The recently launched Renault Lodgy marginally inches past the Honda Mobilio owing to its stronger engine and touring ability. If there is one criterion an MPV has to excel at, it is to ferry its passengers in comfort over long distances and the Lodgy is the best of this lot of MPVs in this aspect. Built on the Duster platform, the Lodgy has impressed us with its high speed stability and ride quality on highways. The 110PS diesel engine is the one to pick in the Lodgy as it is decently quick and will maintain triple digit speeds for extended periods without a fuss and while at it, is very efficient too (21.01kmpl). But there’s more to the Lodgy that helps it come on top in our MPV list.

There is plenty of space and the cabin is flexible too. The top trim gets captain seats for the second row, a good quality touchscreen multimedia system borrowed from the Duster, which is by far the best interface of any we’ve seen on a production car in India and it is very well equipped too. Sat Nav, rear parking camera, cruise control, ABS and Airbags, all that the Mobilio offers, but it also gets leather seats in top trim. The Lodgy as an all-round package is the best MPV on sale in India right now.

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