Here are five everyday cars that appear boring and mundane but are, in fact, quite surprisingly fun to drive.
As automotive journalists, we come across many cars that promise exciting performance and unparalleled thrills of driving, but as soon you get behind the wheel, they turn out to be damp squibs. Similarly, there are some cars that appear boring, mundane, and dull, but surprisingly they offer peppy performance and thrills of driving. And this story is all about the latter kind.
So, here are five cars that appear boring but will pleasantly surprise you with their driving experience.
Maruti Suzuki Wagon R
The WagonR is perhaps the most popular car in the Indian market but for all the wrong reasons. From being identified with Ola and Uber to becoming the butt of every car-related joke in stand-up comedy circles, the WagonR has had a very tough life. Having said that, there’s no denying that it’s one of the most practical, efficient, and spacious hatchbacks in the country – attributes that make it the hot favourite of uncles.
But behind all the aforementioned stereotypes and a dull look hides a nippy little car. With its lightweight body and free-revving 1.2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, pushing out 82bhp and 113Nm, the Wagon R is plenty quick. Couple this with a slick-shifting 5-speed gearbox with short throws and light clutch, and the Wagon R emerges as a car that will actually put a wide smile on your face. Sure, the steering is light, and it rolls around bends easily, but even then, its handling is quite nimble.
Hyundai Aura 1.0
There’s no denying that the Hyundai Aura’s design is off-putting, and it looks awkward and ungainly. When a car looks this odd, it definitely puts it out of consideration for a majority of prospective customers. However, while the Aura’s design wins it no favours, its 99bhp/172Nm 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine, coupled with a 5-speed manual gearbox, makes it a hoot to drive. The engine has a wide powerband, with minimal turbo lag. While it’s not exactly a go-kart around corners, the driving dynamics are very impressive for an everyday compact sedan.
Honda Amaze Diesel
The Honda Amaze is another compact-sedan that won’t probably set your heart racing with its styling. Even though Honda recently gave it a once over, it still looks understated and boring. Nevertheless, there is no denying that its 1.5-litre diesel engine is a gem. Not only is it super fuel-efficient but also quite punchy. Coupled with a 5-speed manual transmission, the engine produces 99bhp and 200bhp, but with the CVT automatic, the diesel mill is detuned to produce 79bhp and 160Nm. But if we’re to be honest, it’s the CVT that feels peppier and more involving to drive, thanks to its smooth-shifting and effortless nature. In terms of driving dynamics, it’s not a corner carver like the Amaze, and being a comfort-oriented sedan, it's softly sprung. The ride quality is superb, though.
Maruti Suzuki Ertiga
An MPV like the Ertiga is meant to do only one thing – move people around in comfort. Now, while the Ertiga does its day job of ferrying families around superbly, it’s also quite fun to drive for a vehicle of its shape and size. The 103bhp and 138Nm 1.5-litre K-Series petrol engine is a free-revving unit like all Suzuki petrol engines. The low-end poke is decent, but the actual grunt arrives only after 3,000rpm, and from there, it pulls cleanly all the way up to its 6,000rpm redline. Even though it comes with a 4-speed automatic, it’s the 5-speed manual that’s our pick. It’s a slick box with short and precise throws. What’s more, the Ertiga also handles quite well – it’s more car-like to drive than any other 7-seat people mover.
Maruti Suzuki S-Presso
First things first, we’re not fans of the S-Presso’s design. And when we say ‘we’, we’re speaking for everyone! Honestly, nobody in their right mind will find the S-Presso to be good looking. However, at its price point, you can’t expect a swashbuckling design either. Plus, the S-Presso does well in bringing a spacious cabin, efficient powertrain, and Maruti’s bullet-proof reliability to the masses. But while those are its key highlights, the S-Presso drives rather well for a bare-basic entry-level hatchback. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine develops 67bhp and 90Nm, and in typical Suzuki style, it loves to rev. The performance is brisk, and it’s quite fun to thrash the motor in each gear. The 5-speed manual gearbox is light, and rowing through the gears is a fun exercise. Tipping the scales at 726kg, it has an impressive power-to-weight ratio too. Given its tall-boy design, body roll sets in early if you poke it around corners. But for driving in the city, it’s a fun runabout.