We love performance cars, but there aren't many available at a fair price in India. Here, we've compiled a list of cars that offer good performance without being too heavy on the pocket.
Performance. Budget. At IndianAuto, we love both these words. Sadly these two are seldom used together, especially in India, where people seem to largely ignore performance cars in favour of plain, simple, and boring passenger cars. Thankfully, some manufacturers know that there is a small but dedicated customer base in India for budget performance cars. Here, we have compiled a list of the best performance cars in India you can buy on a relatively small budget.
1. Tata Tiago JTP
Tata Tigor is a great family car, being spacious, practical, and extremely affordable. One thing it wasn’t, was exciting. The engines offered were extremely bland but frugal, favouring economy over performance. That, however, changed when Tata joined hands with Jayem Performance to build the first focus-built hot hatch by an Indian manufacturer. Sadly, you can’t just waltz into any Tata dealership and buy this car; it is only available in select Tata dealerships.
Tata Tigor JTP is powered by the same 1.2-litre 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol as the Nexon SUV (Petrol variant), but in a slightly different state of tune. The engine produces a maximum power of 113PS and a peak torque of 150Nm. There is only a 5-speed manual transmission on offers, and a slick-shifting one at that. The steering unit is well-weighted and the cornering ability of the Tiago JTP is phenomenal. If you are an enthusiast, this car should definitely be on your list
Note: If you want the same fun-to-drive nature with slightly more practicality, you can also choose the Tata Tigor JTP. It sports the same powertrain but has slightly more weight. The Tata JTP twins are indeed two of the best performance cars in India.
Volkswagen Polo GT TSI, with its 1.2-litre turbo-petrol, is the first car in our list of best budget performance cars in India. It is also the oldest car in this list, having been on sale for the better part of a decade. There are several reasons why you should choose a VW Polo as your preferred choice of performance. Firstly, it reminds us of the VW Golf, which is an iconic car globally. Secondly, the Polo looks extremely classy, and it's one of the few cars that manage to look fresh without any major design update.
Under the hood of the Polo GT TSI, you’ll find a 1.2-litre inline-4 turbocharged petrol engine. While the engine is the same in displacement as the Tata Tiago JTP, it produces slightly less power, 104PS. Max torque, however, is higher, at 175Nm. The engine is mated to a 6-speed DSG, which is one of the best automatic gearboxes in the market. The steering is heavier than other cars in this segment, and the car feels extremely planted even at high speeds. The Polo also has a slightly higher cost of maintenance than its rivals, but that’s the price for German build quality.
Ford motors has had a long history of building performance cars, like the Ford Mustang, Ford GT, Ford Raptor Trucks, and the beloved Focus RS. That, however, doesn’t reflect the blue oval’s line-up in India. Ford’s line-up has only on performance car on offer, the Mustang GT, which is a made-to-order import vehicle, or in other words, mind-blowingly expensive! Thankfully, Ford does have a fun-to-drive vehicle in its arsenal that is affordable, the Figo hatchback!
The Figo is powered by three different engine options, all of which qualify for our list of budget performance cars in India. The first is a 1.2-litre petrol engine which produces 96PS of max power. The second is a 1.5-litre diesel that makes 100PS of max power. The third engine option is a 1.5-litre petrol that makes a sweet max power figure of 123PS! The last engine is only available with a 5-speed automatic, while the other two only feature a 5-speed manual gearbox.
Hyundai, the second biggest car manufacturer in India, has had great success with cars in its line-up. Recently, with the booming SUV sales in our country, Hyundai decided to dip its toes in the subcompact SUV segment, offering the ultra-modern Venue to the customer. The car has been a massive success, with Venue briefly surpassing the Maruti Brezza as the bestselling SUV in India. The success of this little SUV is owed to the brilliant exterior design, sweet interiors, frugal engines, and last but definitely not the least, Hyundai’s service centre reach in India.
Hyundai Venue is offered with three engine choices, a 1.2-litre naturally-aspirated petrol, a 1.4-litre turbo-diesel, and a 1.0-litre turbo-petrol. Out of these, only the last one qualifies as a performance model. The 1.0-litre inline-3 turbocharged petrol engine makes a maximum of 120PS and 172Nm of peak torque. There are two transmission options available with this engine, a 6-speed manual and a 7-speed DCT. Not only is Venue one of the best performance cars in India, but it is also one of the most practical ones!
Maruti Suzuki is the biggest carmaker in India, with multiple bestsellers in its line-up. That said, most of these bestsellers are small, affordable cars. Maruti’s foray into larger, premium vehicles has never worked out very well. Remember the Grand Vitara and Kizashi? Those were brilliant vehicles! Sadly, these couldn’t find many takers. Another such example is the Baleno RS, the more powerful and more expensive version of the extremely popular Baleno hatchback.
Maruti Suzuki Baleno RS is powered by a 1.0-litre turbocharged inline-3 engine. Although this engine is smaller in cubic capacity than the regular Baleno (1.2-litre), it is more powerful due to forced-induction. The regular Baleno was a nice performer and handler, courtesy of its lightweight chassis. A little extra power is all it needed to become properly sporty, and that is what the RS version offers. Sadly, Baleno RS has been discontinued due to poor customer demand. You can either buy the leftover models at select dealerships or old models at the used car market.