The Indian car market is cluttered with cars that highlight practicality, fuel efficiency, have low maintenance or are feature rich. However, there is a diminishing breed of enthusiasts who are not bothered to boast about having ventilated seats or the size of their infotainment screens. They buy a car simply because driving one gives them joy. We list down our favourite cars for enthusiasts trying to keep a budget in mind.
1. Volkswagen Polo GT TSI
The Polo has successfully captured the enthusiasts-on-a-budget market. The GT badging gives the car a subtle yet dynamic look and the powerful but frugal 110 bhp 3-cylinder TSI engine is more than what you need in the city. The new torque converter may not be as intuitive as the DSG but it is still one of the best auto boxes out there in the price range. VW was also the first manufacturer to start the trend of the turbo-petrol engines in hatchbacks and seems like everyone is following their path.
2. Skoda Octavia RS 245
The Octavia RS badge has gained a lot of success recently and after the RS 230 getting sold out, Skoda has brought in the manic Octavia RS 245. This one further enhances the driving experience with an electronically limited slip differential, larger brakes and additional power. It is right up there with the Germans in terms of performance, and you also get a vRS mode to tune the characteristics of the car. The vRS also has immense tuning capabilities, and there are Octavias out there producing even upwards of 400 bhp.
3. Mini Cooper S
Widely known as a car that replicates the feels of a Go-Kart, the Mini Cooper S is the perfect car to get around city traffic in the quickest way possible. It is only available in two-door guise reminiscent of its classic shape and design. Underneath, you get a 2.0 litre turbo petrol producing 189 bhp as standard 228 bhp in the JCW variant. The Cooper also gets the advantage of being much lighter and this really helps while accelerating. Having such a short wheelbase pays off in the corners and well, and the car overall feels very agile and lively.
4. BMW 330i
BMW has brought back the ‘330i’ with the latest 3 series. Needless to say, it is an even more delightful car than the previous model. Power figures you ask? 255 bhp – similar as before, 400 Nm of torque- a bump of 50 Nm, and paired with the brilliant 8 speed ZF box, this car proves to be a perfect mix of performance as well as luxury. A compact sedan with enough power and driving dynamics to take on highway runs, twisties and keep you comfortable on city roads as well.
5. Hyundai i10 Grand Nios turbo
This car is a classic example of power-to-weight ratio and proves that you don’t need a big engine and a gazillion horsepower to have the most fun. You get a modest 1.0 litre turbo petrol that produces 99 bhp and 172 Nm of torque, but the small dimensions of the car make it fast in real world traffic conditions as well. The small 3-cylinder engine has enough grunt to make it quick whilst also reducing the weight of the car. You can push it to its limits very easily, and that is where most of the fun lies for a petrolhead.
6. Jaguar XE
The baby Jag came in with a lot of promise in India, but has not really lived up in terms of sales figures as compared to the Germans. However, sit in one and you are greeted with an elegant cabin and more importantly a 247 bhp 2.0 litre turbo petrol. Now, the performance figures may be lower than the BMW, but Jaguar cars come with their own set of driving dynamics that may be better suited to some. You get a well-tuned suspension, feelsome steering, and a snug driving position. The perfect recipe.
7. Ford Figo 1.5 TDCi
The Figo has its own fan base and many define it as one of the first proper hot hatchbacks of our country. While the Polo GT has been raking up the numbers in terms of sales, the Ford Figo comes with the option of a diesel engine equipped with 215 Nm of torque that appeals to many enthusiasts. However, a manual gearbox will be the only option on the Figo, and while that might seem like a negative, it only means rejoice for those that love three pedals.