Diwali special: Best budget cars with a firecracker of an engine

Affordable but exciting cars

As the festival of lights envelops the country in a mood of celebration, we at Autocar India have curated a list of cars that come with a firecracker of an engine. With these five cars, the performance is thrilling, and the driving experience is plain fun – and they all fall under Rs 20 lakh! If you’re a car enthusiast with not the biggest budget, read on to check out our picks. But do note that this list is not arranged in any particular order.

Skoda Slavia 1.5 - Rs 16.79 - 18.39 lakh

The 115hp, 1.0-litre TSi engine on the Slavia offers plenty of performance, but it’s the more powerful 150hp, 250Nm, 1.5-litre TSi engine that’s the real pick of the lot. With a punchy mid-range and a strong top-end, the 1.5-litre turbocharged unit loves to be revved to the redline. This, combined with the Slavia’s superb ride and handling balance, makes it an enthusiast’s delight. The same engine is also offered on the VW Virtus, but what gives the Slavia a leg up is that it’s offered with a 6-speed manual gearbox apart from the 7-speed DSG unit that’s available on both.

Hyundai i20 N Line - Rs 10.00 - 12.11 lakh

While the regular i20 is already offered with the 120hp 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine, the i20 N-Line takes it a notch higher with the stiffer suspension set-up, sportier exhaust and sharper steering. The engine has been carried forward unchanged from the regular i20 and it does the job quite well with a healthy mid-range performance and its rev-happy nature. But it’s the N-specific tweaks made to the chassis that make the real difference to the driving experience on the N-Line. A proper manual gearbox is, however, much missed as it is only offered with a 7-speed DCT or a 6-speed iMT gearbox.

Honda City 1.5 petrol - Rs 11.57 - 15.32 lakh

It’s not punchy like a turbocharger unit, but the City’s 121hp, 1.5-litre iVTEC engine is the only naturally aspirated unit on this list, and a charming one at that. It’s a very strong and tractable motor that works well at both ends of the rev range. The NA engine with a 6-speed manual gearbox is the one to go for, although it's also offered with a 6-speed automatic option. The City offers a composed ride quality over bad and broken surfaces, and handling is also predictable with nicely weighted steering, making it an easy car to drive.

Mahindra XUV300 TurboSport - Rs 10.35 - 1

The XUV300 was very recently updated with this new 1.2-litre three-cylinder mStallion turbo-petrol engine that boasts of class-best power and torque figures of 131hp and 230Nm. Numbers aside, the engine feels eager to deliver on performance at every flex of your right foot. And while this isn’t a high-revving engine, the tidal wave of torque in the mid-range is likely to satiate the performance needs of most driving enthusiasts. The XUV300 has also always impressed us with its ride and handling balance, making it one of the most fun-to-drive SUVs in its class.

Citroen C3 - Rs 8.15 lakh

The C3 isn’t perfect, but the 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine under its hood packs a serious punch. It makes 110hp and 190Nm of torque, which feels plenty in this 1,035kg crossover. With performance focused at the bottom end and mid-range, the C3 turbo leaps off the line. The six-speed manual is slick in its shifts too. The steering also has a confident weightiness to it and the ride and handling balance feels robust and tightly engineered beyond this car’s expected segment. If you are willing to trade a few features for a rewarding driving experience, the C3 is perhaps your best choice in the entry-level segment.

All prices ex-showroom, Delhi

from Autocar India

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