There are many excellent choices among entry-level hatchbacks
celerio
celerio
Human beings have always had a fascination for travel and children, especially boys, from their earliest days adore cars just as their ancestors used to once have a fascination for horses. Buying a car is therefore one of the great events of every family and a first car is a great moment for every buyer. My first car was a battered 10th hand Morris 8 convertible but my new toy gave me a great thrill. Today young buyers are spoiled for choice but many will opt for a good second hand rather than for a new set of wheels because a good four year-old vehicle costs less than half the price of a new one. But people do buy new cars and there are many excellent choices among the entry-level hatchbacks available. Even though Tata Nano lost its image by being wrongly positioned as a ‘poor man’s car,’ the new Nano is a much improved and a very cute little car. It now sports a much overdue power steering system and a lid to close the little boot. It also has a much larger petrol tank and proper glove compartments. But at a practical level it has enough inner space for four large adults, good acceleration from its 37 hp petrol engine and a good air-conditioning system. It also has good ground clearance and best of all, it is very easy to park. To underline its classy new positioning it even offers an Automatic Manual Transmission, automatic gear-shift that is ideal for driving in traffic. Maruti, as the king of small cars, offers their Alto 800 with a 47 hp petrol engine and a Alto K10 with a 70 hp diesel engine. These Altos are larger and more expensive than the Nano and are the most popular small cars. The top end K10 also offers an AMT automatic transmission. Maruti’s more expensive Celerio is a very little car that shares the K10’s 1000cc petrol with a 47 hp diesel stable mate. It also offers an AMT automatic. Where Maruti goes Hyundai, their Korean rival, cannot be far behind. Their 814 cc petrol powered 55 hp Eon is a cute and complete little car and is also available with a 1100cc 68 hp diesel engine borrowed from i10 that is Hyundai’s most popular small car. Their Grand i10 is also available with a 1200cc 81 hp petrol engine but offers no automatic transmission. India’s Tata Motors offers several useful alternatives. Their Indica with 55 hp petrol and 69 hp diesel engines is a bigger hatchback and though it has been around a bit too long, it remains a reliable car to consider. Their classy new successor the 89 hp petrol and 74 hp diesel engine Bolt is a more expensive little car well loaded with almost every feature that a buyer would desire. Automatic Gears In the increasingly hectic traffic of every city, an automatic transmission makes driving much easier. The driver now just has to look at the road ahead and push the accelerator and brakes without having to shuffle the gears or pump the clutch pedal every few minutes. Now many small cars have opted for Automated Manual Transmission gearboxes that is an ingenious box that sits on top of a conventional manual gearbox that shifts the gears according to commands of a set of electronic sensors and microchips. It is not quite as smooth as a regular automatic but is much easier than manual driving and much cheaper to make. According to Maruti, sales of automatic gearboxes on their cheaper models is about 30 per cent but they report that the demand is growing fast. Most people still think that automatic transmissions are not only expensive but also heavy of fuel and not very reliable but they forget that technologies are closing the gaps very quickly. (The author is the region’s most celebrated automobile columnist)