The segment which has seen an over 21% growth (YoY) in December 2020 was the premium hatchback segment. While the compact SUV segment is eating up all its neighbouring segments including the mid-size sedan segment, this premium hatchback segment has been doing a good job in keeping up with the growth rate of the compact SUV segment. In December 2020 this segment saw 37,313 units sold in comparison to 30,965 units sold in December 2019. This is very interesting because this segment is primarily led by just 3 competitors. This includes the segment leader Maruti Suzuki Baleno, Hyundai i20 and recently launched in petrol turbo guise Tata Altroz. Let us have a look at how these three compete with one another and what 2021 might have in store for these cars.
Maruti Suzuki Baleno
The highest-selling premium hatchback in the country by quite some margin is the Baleno. It sold over 18,000 units in December 2020 as well as 2019. The reasons for its growth are very clear. Maruti Suzuki offers a product with great features, convenience, mileage and maintenance costs. This is true for all the Maruti products because of the dealer and service network in the country.
Baleno comes with a sole petrol engine option with an option of mild hybrid technology on offer which makes 82/88hp and 113Nm. It comes with either a 5-speed manual or a CVT gearbox option. Because of the lack of diesel engine option, it has seen a marginal decline in sales in December than the previous year. This is something that Maruti will try to rectify and in 2021, we might finally see the return of diesel powertrain for Maruti products. The prices of Baleno range from Rs 5.63 lakh to Rs 8.96, ex-showroom.
One of the other most popular premium hatchbacks in the country recently received a complete makeover with the new-gen i20. This included a complete overhaul of exterior design, interior features and setup as well as new engine options. This made a lot of difference in sales as well, with more than 30,000 bookings in the first month and a half after its launch. Hyundai has always been an upmarket alternative to the Baleno with a ton of more and exciting features and convenience.
The Hyundai i20 comes with a plethora of engine options from a 1.2-litre naturally aspirated petrol making 82hp and 114Nm, a 1.5-litre diesel making 100PS and 240Nm and a new 1.0-litre turbo petrol making 120PS and 171Nm. These engines can be combined with manual, CVT, iMT and DCT transmission options. With this particular launch, however, Hyundai has gone into a league of their own with prices ranging between Rs 6.79 lakh and Rs 11.32 lakh, ex-showroom. Hyundai i20 is expensive without doubt, but with this extra money, you do get a ton of more features and engine options to choose from.
The newest player in this segment, Tata has the safest hatchback in the country in Altroz. Altroz received a 5-star safety rating at the Global NCAP. That is a huge reason for Altroz’s success to reach the number 3 spot on this list. Apart from that, Tata has made sure that Altroz omes with the latest technology and engine options. Tata recently launched the turbo petrol engine also to compete against the Hyundai i20. Tata Altroz managed to sell 6,600 units in December 2020.
Altroz comes with a 1.2-litre petrol engine making 85hp and 113Nm, a 1.5-litre diesel making 88hp and 200Nm and the brand new 1.2-litre turbo petrol making 110PS and 140Nm. There is just a manual transmission option with all Altroz variants. However, there might soon be 7-speed DCT transmission on offer, but it is not yet confirmed, The prices of Altroz range between Rs 5.44 lakh and Rs 8.95 lakh, ex-showroom.
With all these players with their distinctive strengths and weaknesses ready to compete in 2021 as well, it will be an exciting brawl because of so many options in terms of safety, convenience and engine-gearbox combination. Who will come out on top this time around, we will find out.