Automatic hatchbacks in India: Which one to buy?

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  • January 4, 2013
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With urban traffic getting worse by the day, an increasing number of people are switching to small cars with automatic gearboxes. We take a closer look at the options and how they stand out from each other

 

Maruti Suzuki A-Star VXi AT

 

 

Automatic small cars are still a niche in India. With sales being low – they account for only 4-6 per cent of sales in India – only a handful of options exist. Lately, sales have picked up owing to improved fuel efficiency, ease of driving, parking and manoeuvrability, and higher purchasing power of the buyer. 

 

Here is a look at all the automatic hatchbacks currently available in the market. Find out which one suits your needs the best.

 

1. Maruti Suzuki A-star VXi AT

 

The A-star’s compact dimensions and positive drive dynamics make it a near perfect urban runabout. Near perfect because Maruti Suzuki offers the A-star automatic only in the middle-of-the-line VXi trim minus the bells and whistles of a ZXi variant such as a tachometer, front fog lamps, rear defogger, rear parcel tray, remote central locking and front airbags.

 

It packs in ABS, power steering, power windows, integrated stereo system, the driver's seat is height adjustable and manually adjustable outside rearview mirrors (ORVMs).

 

The A-star VXi AT is powered by a three-cylinder 1.0-litre engine that develops 67PS of power and 90Nm of torque and is mated to a four-speed torque converter gearbox. Its ARAI mileage is 17kmpl, marginally less than the manual version. Its drive dynamics are positive though it has lost some zip. Also Read: The 5 safest hatchbacks in India under Rs 5.5 lakhs

 

Priced at Rs 4.58 lakh (ex-showroom New Delhi), the A-Star AT costs Rs 51,000 more than the manual VXi and top-of-the-line ZXi variant, which is priced at Rs 4.51 lakh (ex-showroom New Delhi). However, it’s still the cheapest automatic hatch in the market. Also, Maruti’s wide service network makes it a good choice for automatic car buyers in remote locations. On the flip side, dark plastics, small rear windows and cramped rear set make the interiors claustrophobic.  

 

 

Hyundai i10 AT

 

 

2. Hyundai i10 1.2 Sportz AT and Asta AT

 

The Korean car maker offers two automatic variants of the i10 hatchback, with the 1.2-litre Kappa engine in the middle-of-the-line Sportz variant and the top-of-the-line Asta variant. 

 

The Sportz packs in power steering, front and rear power windows, tachometer, integrated stereo, remote central locking, electrically adjustable ORVMs, rear defogger, rear wash wiper, rear parcel tray while airbags are optional. 

 

At Rs 5.24 lakh (ex-showroom New Delhi), the i10 1.2 Sportz AT costs Rs. 57,000 more than the manual i10 1.2 Sportz and Rs 66,000 more than the A-star VXi AT. However, its beige interiors feel more upmarket (as opposed to the A-Star’s), it can seat five in comfort and offers more equipment.

 

The 1.2 Asta automatic packs in all the bells and whistles such as Bluetooth phone connectivity, steering mounted audio controls and phone calling/receiving controls, height adjustable driver’s seat, tilt adjustable steering, front fog lamps, front airbags, rear parking sensors, impact sensing auto door unlocking and an optional sun roof.

 

The i10’s four-cylinder 1.2 Kappa engine with variable valve-timing technology and 4-valves-per-cylinder churns out 80PS of power and 114Nm of torque, mated to a four-speed torque converter gearbox. ARAI mileage is 20kmpl. 

 

Priced at Rs 6.16 lakh (ex-showroom New Delhi), the i10 1.2 Asta AT costs Rs 74,000 more than the manual variant. The high premium hasn’t dampened sales with numerous  i10 Asta ATs found on city roads.

 

 

Honda Brio AT

 

 

3. Honda Brio S AT and V AT

 

The Honda Brio is one of the liveliest hatchbacks in India with its free-revving 1.2-litre i-VTEC engine that develops 88PS of power and 109Nm of torque, mated to a five-speed torque converter gearbox that has toned down the performance but adds the convenience of a stress-free drive. Mileage, however, has dropped to 16.5kmpl from the manual’s 19.4kmpl (ARAI tested).

 

Being one of the smallest hatchbacks, the Brio is easy to manoeuvre and park. It features spacious interiors but cost cutting means no rear wash wipe or defogger. 

 

The S AT and V AT variants cost Rs 5.74 lakh and Rs 5.99 lakh (ex-showroom New Delhi) respectively, Rs 75,000 than the S (O) MT and V MT manuals. 

 

The middle-of-the-line S AT packs in an integrated stereo, power steering, front and rear power windows, steering-mounted audio controls, manually adjustable ORVMs, dual tone interiors, ABS, remote central locking and front airbags. 

 

The top-of-the-line V AT gets electrically adjustable ORVMs, alloy wheels, chrome interior door handles, dual horns, seat back pockets and vanity mirrors for both driver and front passenger. 

 

 

Maruti Suzuki Ritz AT

 

 

4. Maruti Suzuki Ritz VXi AT

 

The Ritz VXi AT is the latest entrant in the premium automatic hatchback segment. A recent face-lift includes 52 changes to make it more appealing.

 

Priced at Rs 6.15 lakh (ex-showroom New Delhi), it costs a massive Rs 1.27 lakh more than the manual VXi AT while being specced identically.

 

It’s spacious, economical and comfortable and in VXi trim gets power steering, power windows, tachometer, rear parcel tray, manually adjustable ORVMs, remote central locking, front and rear fog lamps and ABS. 

It is powered by a 1.2-litre engine that develops 85PS of power and 113Nm of torque, mated to a four-speed torque converter auto box. According to ARAI, the Ritz AT delivers a fuel efficiency of 17.16 kmpl, which isn’t significantly low compared to the manual version that returns 18.5 kmpl. 

 

 

Hyundai i20

 

 

5. Hyundai i20 Sportz AT

 

The i20 leaves other automatic hatches in the dust with the comfort and safety features and quality interiors.

 

The i20 Sportz AT is loaded with climate control, dual tone interiors, power steering, power windows, height adjustable driver’s seat, an integrated audio system, cooled glovebox, rear parcel tray, remote central locking, front and rear fog lamps, alloy wheels, rear defogger, rain sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, impact sensing auto door unlocking, driver’s side airbag, rear disc brakes and ABS. 

 

Its 1.2-litre petrol engine is a bit wanting in power so Hyundai has plonked in a 1.4-litre petrol engine that develops 100PS of power and is mated to a four-speed torque converter gearbox. The 1.2-litre engine returns 18.5kmpl while the 1.4 returns an ARAI claimed 15kmpl. The larger engine does not get the tax exemptions of smaller engines. 

 

So the i20 Sportz AT costs Rs 7.79 lakh (ex-showroom New Delhi), Rs 1.93 lakh more than the manual 1.2 i20 Sportz, and Rs 1.03 lakh more than the top-of-the-line 1.2 i20 Asta (O) that has more bells and whistles than most mid-size sedans.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Budgets not withstanding, if you want an entry-level automatic hatchback, the A-Star VXi AT is it. For a bit more performance and decent equipment, the Honda Brio V AT should be the choice. 

 

The i10 1.2 Sportz AT or Asta AT are well equipped with spacious interiors, and the Maruti Suzuki Ritz VXi AT is a premium hatchback that is spacious, comfortable and economical. 

 

The Hyundai i20 Sportz AT is the most expensive automatic hatch but it’s modern, spacious, luxurious, well kitted, easy to park, drive and manoeuvre in urban conditions. Related: Hatchbacks of 2013

 

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