Hitchhiker’s guide to hatchbacks

Though the small hatchbacks command around 54 per cent of the market there is a class of bigger cars between 3.65 and 4 metres in length that generate a large 22 per cent of India's sales. The extra size makes all these are more spacious and comfortable.

The leader of this bigger pack is India's own Tata Indica. It has a variety of diesel and petrol engines though petrol is a small share. The base 1405 cc diesel delivers a sedate 53hp but the turbo version takes it to 67 and the new common rail DICOR engine delivers 70 smooth and peppy horses. The interiors are very spacious though the fit and finish is not quite as good as its competitors'.

Its main competitor in this segment is the Suzuki Swift which gives a very peppy and economical performance with its 1300 cc petrol and common rail diesel engines giving 87 hp and 75hp respectively. It is a winner in styling even though the rear seat and boot space is a little cramped. The Hyundai Getz is about the same size as the Swift and has 1086 and 1341 cc petrol and 1500 cc common rail diesel engines delivering 63, 83 and a huge 110 hp respectively. It is a very good all-round car with good internal space.

Similar to it is the relaunched and restyled Fiat Palio Stile with 1100 cc and 1600 cc petrol engines delivering 57 and 100 hp respectively as well as a 1248 cc common rail diesel generating 75 horses. It is a well styled, spacious and sturdy car but had fallen in reputation until Tata Motors took it under its wing to ensure good service and spares.

Competing with all of them is the 1150 cc 76 hp Chevrolet U-VA that offers the most internal space being a hatchback version of the Aveo sedan. A recent launch is the new Skoda Fabia with petrol and diesel engines. It has Skoda's superb build quality and interior finish but the three cylinder diesel engine is a little noisy while the new 1100 cc petrol engine is a little meek. It is well styled but rather costly.

... contd.

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