Lightweighting is one of the buzzwords in modern automotive engineering. Engineers strive to shave off the kilos and even the grams of the cars they build because the advantages of doing so are aplenty. For one, the lighter the car, the less is the load on its engine, and, resultantly, the greater the fuel efficiency. Of course, performance is the other key area of benefit with going light. However, light cars (aside from carbon-fibre bodied supercars and the like) are also, often unfairly, viewed as unsafe. While it’s best to leave the question of safety to be answered by objective crash tests, here’s our list of the 10 lightest cars currently on sale in India.
10. Maruti Suzuki Ignis (825-860kg)
The lightest car to be built on Suzuki’s Heartect platform (which underpins the Swift, the Dzire, the Baleno and the upcoming Ertiga), the Ignis is powered by Suzuki’s eponymous 1.2-litre K12 engine that makes 83hp and 113Nm of torque. The low kerb weight means that the lightest Ignis has a power-to-weight ratio of 100.6hp/tonne. Claimed fuel efficiency stands at 20.89kpl, while in our acceleration tests we achieved a 0-100kph acceleration time of just under 13sec for the manual and 13.26sec for the AMT. Notably, the Ignis is one of nine Maruti Suzuki models that meet India’s latest crash test norms.
9. Maruti Suzuki Celerio (815-850kg)
A rival to the Tata Tiago and the new Hyundai Santro, the Celerio was updated a year ago to meet India’s new crash test norms, and is now one of the nine Maruti Suzuki cars that does. Powered by a 999cc, three-cylinder K10 motor that makes 68hp and 90Nm (59hp and 78Nm of CNG), the Celerio has a power-to-weight ratio of 80-83.4hp/tonne. This helps it achieve a 0-100kph time of 14.24sec and a claimed fuel efficiency figure of 23.1kpl.
8. Datsun Go (819-846kg)
The refreshed Go hatchback is a bit more upmarket than the previous model, especially due to the added safety kit that has seen kerb weight rise by about 20kg. However, the Go is powered by the same 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol motor that makes 68hp and 104Nm of torque. Thanks to a power-to-weight ratio of 80.4-83hp/tonne, performance is peppy and fuel efficiency is quite good; Datsun claims a figure of 19.83kpl. While the previous Go had not done well when it was crash-tested by Global NCAP, the new model is compliant with India’s latest crash test norms.
7. Maruti Suzuki Omni (785-800kg)
The only MPV on the list, the Omni is also the oldest model on our list of the lightest cars. The light-weight MPV (available with five, seven or eight seats) is one of many models set to be discontinued before the new Indian crash test norms apply to all cars on sale come October 2019. The 0.8-litre, three-cylinder petrol motor makes just 35hp and 59Nm of peak torque, making it the least powerful model on this list as well. The comparatively lower power-to-weight ratio of 43.8-44.6hp/tonne sees a comparatively lower fuel-efficiency figure of 16.8kpl as well.
6. Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 (740kg)
The Alto K10 is known to be a peppy car to drive, and a part of it is down to its reasonable power-to-weight ratio of 91.9hp/tonne. The K10’s 68hp, 1.0-litre engine helps this Alto do the 0-100kph dash in 15.87sec. An ARAI-rated fuel efficiency figure of 24.07kpl is also among the highest in India. While the Alto K10 is a big seller, the current model does not meet the new safety norms and is likely to be replaced by an all-new model.
5. Hyundai Eon (715-795kg)
Hyundai’s Eon is available with a 0.8-litre engine making 56hp and 75Nm and a 1.0-litre petrol mill producing 69hp and 94Nm of peak torque; the power-to-weight ratios for the smaller engined model is 70.4-78.3hp/tonne while the larger engined one’s is 86.8-96.5hp/tonne. The Eon is one of the more fuel-efficient cars on sale in India with an ARAI rating of 21.1kpl and 20.3kpl for the 0.8-litre motor and 1.0-litre engine, respectively. As per our tests, the smaller motor is also capable of hitting the ton mark from standstill in a lazy 17.60sec. The Eon is one of the models likely to be phased out before the new crash test norms kick in.
4. Renault Kwid (699kg)
Recently refreshed with more kit (which makes it about 30kg heavier than the outgoing model), the 0.8-litre Kwid was claimed to be the most fuel-efficient car on sale in India, a title which has now passed to the Datsun Redigo. The 28.4kpl rating for this motor (23.01kpl for the 1.0-litre engine) is in part thanks to the low kerb weight, which also helps to achieve a power-to-weight ratio of 77.3hp/tonne for the 54hp, 799cc engine and 97.3hp/tonne for the 68hp, 1.0-litre unit. The larger engine is capable of propelling this hatchback to 100kph in 13.85sec, while the smaller motor takes 17.94sec for the same run. Global NCAP has rated the Kwid a 1-star car.
3. Tata Nano (695-765kg)
The Nano has the distinction of having the smallest engine in a mass-market vehicle currently on sale in India. The 624cc two-cylinder motor makes a measly 38hp and 51Nm of torque, though this is off-set by the relatively low kerb weight that helps to achieve a power-to-weight ratio of 49.7-54.7hp/tonne. The 4-speed manual has an ARAI certified efficiency of 23.6kpl while the 5-speed AMT is rated at 21.98kpl.Our tests showed that the AMT version was slower than the manual, with the former managing to hit 100kph in an extremely leisurely 37.86sec. Tata Motors will not update the Nano to meet new crash test regulations so the Rs 1 lakh car will be bowing out soon.
2. Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 (695kg)
The most affordable car in Maruti Suzuki’s India range, the Alto 800, is powered by a 796cc, three-cylinder petrol motor that makes 48hp and 69Nm of torque. While it may seem underpowered compared to other 0.8-litre engines, the dinky Alto 800 weighs all of 695 kilos, and has a power-to-weight ratio of 69.1hp/tonne. This results in a fuel-efficiency figure of 24.07kpl and a 0-100kph time of 16.92sec. While Global NCAP’s crash test in 2014 saw the Alto get zero stars in adult occupancy, the hatchback will likely be phased out before the new crash test norms kick in. A new model to replace the Alto 800 is in the works.
1. Datsun Redigo (670kg)
Datsun’s Redigo has two claims to fame – it is the lightest car on sale in India and has the highest ARAI-rated fuel efficiency figure at 25.17kpl (specced with the same 54hp/72Nm, 0.8-litre engine). Interestingly, the 1.0-litre engine is also shared with the Kwid, but delivers a lower 22.5kpl. The power-to-weight ratio is 80.6hp/tonne for the 0.8-litre engine and 101.5hp/tonne for the 1.0-litre engine. As expected, the 0.8-litre Redigo isn’t particularly fast, with a 0-100kph time of 18.92sec. The Redigo will be updated in time for the new crash test norms that come into force in October 2019.