While we celebrate our independence day, it is also important to remember that gone are those dark days where all you had to choose from were a handful of cars. In a sense, car buyers in India are 'independent' to choose from a variety of cars, from the simple family hatchback to the SUV and sedan and even a sexy coupe or cabriolet if you can afford one. But performance doesn't necessarily come at a huge expense. In fact, there are several cars under the Rs 10 lakh price point that we guarantee will put a massive smile on your face. So here is out top 5 list of affordable used performance cars in India.
1. E90 BMW 3 Series
Lets start of with a bang! And a rear wheel drive one while we are at it. The BMW 3 Series is the king of the performance family car and the E90 series was the last one that had a pure hydraulic steering setup. And that means handling like no other. The E90 was launched in India in 2007 and was available till 2012 with the 2008 model onwards being termed LCI or facelift and those are the ones to get. While the diesel is the sensible choice, the petrol is the one you really want to get, especially if you can snag yourself a 330i. over 250 bhp, one of the best chassis of the modern era and a straight six naturally aspirated engine. What is not to like!
2. Abarth Punto
The hot hatchback is the perfect city car for someone who wants practicality with a bit of performance thrown in. And while the Volkswagen Polo GTI is the king of the hot hatchback in India today, they aren't exactly what you would call affordable. On the other hand though, you can easily get a used or even a brand new Fiat Punto Abarth for a price tag well under the 10 lakh mark. With about 150 bhp on tap from its 1.4-litre 4-cylinder turbo engine, the Abarth Punto is an absolute hoot to drive especially if you considering doing a few select mods to it.
3. Gen 1 Honda City 1.5 / VTEC
The quintessential Indian performance car, the first gen (facelift) Honda City 1.5 / VTEC is the stuff most petrol heads dream of. With about a 110 bhp 1.5-litre engine, it might not seem great but stomp on that throttle and let that engine rev out till it hits the limiter and you will understand why a whole generation of petrol heads swear by it. Upgrade the suspension, slap on a set of nicer brakes, simple exhaust and intake mods and you are good to go. And the best part, all that performance cars about Rs 1-1.5 lakh!
4. Skoda Octavia RS
The new Skoda Octavia RS costs quite the pretty penny. But what if you wanted the same - or similar levels of performance at 1/4th or maybe 1/8th the price? Well then you can choose an older version, Laura or the Octavia - but in its RS form. A manual gearbox, about 200 bhp and the potential to double that just by slapping on some mods is a very very tasty proposition. And one that we most certainly want to experience ourselves someday too! The older Skoda Octavia /Laura RS also came in some pretty spectacular colours such as that iconic yellow!
5. Maruti Suzuki Zen
The cheapest car here on the list and also the most fun. The Maruti Suzuki Zen can easily take a huge amount of abuse with the likes of engine swaps, suspension upgrades etc. Out favourite of course has to be the rare Zen Carbon or Zen Steel and we would immediately plonk in a 1.3-litre engine into it and maybe add some high-lift cams! With about 800 kg of kerb weight and about 85 bhp (stock on the 1.3-litre engine, over 100 bhp with cams), the Zen has the potential of being an absolute pocket rocket of a hatchback and not just in a straight line.