The fun of riding through mountain twisties and long open highways with the wind gushing through your hair and the warm, balmy sun kissing your skin is just the kind of picture one imagines while thinking of bike rides. Of course, in the real world such rides may be few and far in between, and more often than not you end up using the bike merely to commute from point A to B within the city – sometimes through thick, congested traffic; hot, muggy weather, and in case the heavens decide to open up, over mucky, waterlogged roads, too! Not the kind of situation you’d always want to be in, right? Time, then, to switch to four-wheels? Perhaps. But aren’t cars expensive to buy and maintain? On the whole yes, but we have listed below some that will be easy on your pockets. Check them out!

Tata Nano

The Nano can easily be called the ‘bike’ of all cars and for all the good reasons. Thanks to its compact design and manoeuvrability, this hatchback can be a true champion in traffic and while parking in tight spots. Just like your bike!

The tall-boy stance and short front and rear overhangs make it quite practical. It’s cute to look at and has decent space for seat four average-sized adults, so you can even run a carpool with your colleagues and split costs for fuel. But then, with the Nano you really don’t have much to worry about fuel economy anyway as it returns an impressive 21.9kmpl. Although it’s not an ideal luggage carrier, its small boot space of 80 litres can be well utilised within the city to accommodate small bags.  

Datsun redi-GO

Nissan has made a smart move by introducing its affordable arm Datsun to India. Its latest offering, the redi-GO is a good option for those planning to buy their first car.  

Its raised stance is a boon on our roads. With 185mm of ground clearance, this Japanese car can take on potholes and bad sections of the road with a smile. The styling is fresh, modern and aggressive – something that will appeal to a lot of young buyers. The slanting bonnet also helps increase road visibility. The interiors are well sorted and it takes a minimalistic approach, keeping the cabin spacious and clutter-free.  

The small 799cc engine under its hood is sufficient for city drives and at 25.17kmpl, mileage is impressive. Considering the segment, its decent boot space of 222 litres is good enough to hold on to two medium-sized bags, to say the least, for a short excursion.

Maruti Alto 800

Now here’s one car that probably doesn’t require any hard sell. The Alto 800 is the king of affordable hatchbacks in the country and it continues to rule the roads thanks to its reliable, no-nonsense image.  

This all-rounder has got everything right in all departments. It looks good from outside with a new chin and a revamped grille. The compact design and refreshing interiors with decent features make it a value-for-money car. Its 177 litres of boot space is not the segment’s best, but is sufficient enough to store knick-knacks and small bags on the go.  

Under the hood is the trusty 796cc petrol engine that generates decent power without compromising on mileage. The claimed fuel efficiency figure of 22.74kmpl is one of the best in its segment.  

Renault Kwid

Why upgrade to just a hatchback when you have the option of getting something more SUV-ish? The Kwid from Renault has been nothing short of a ‘game changer’, charting its own course for the entry-level compact segment.

Its muscular design with body cladding and a stylish grille screams attention. Not only on the outside, but with first-in-class features such as touchscreen navigation and stylish speedometer, the Kwid is hard to resist. It scores great on practicality, too, with a boot space of 300 litres which can put even some cars above its segment to shame.

Under the bonnet, it uses a small 799cc petrol engine which puts out 54PS of power that’s decent for city runabouts. The car is light on the pocket and gives a mileage identical to that of the redi-GO – 25.17kmpl.  

Tata Tiago

Before any doubts start clouding your mind considering that it is a Tata product, let us tell you that the Tiago is nothing like any other car in the segment. With the Tiago, Tata has shedding its earlier taxi car image and produced one of the best cars in the segment.

Given its price point, it looks and feels a segment above. The European styling on the outside and feature-loaded cabin inside speaks a lot about this well-thought out of offering from Tata. It’s quite a wide car – with a width of 1647 mm, greater than any other entry-level compact hatchback, this basically results in more space on the inside. However, there are some compromises made on the boot capacity. At 242 litres, it’s not the best in the segment but it can swallow 1 large suitcase, a medium-sized duffel bag and some smaller bags quite easily.

Its 1.2-litre petrol engine is quite refined and has the best power output in the segment. However, it doesn’t fall short on the economy scale by offering a mileage of 23.84kmpl which makes it a lucrative option on the whole.

Hyundai Eon

Although the Eon’s styling may now begin to look dated, it still is one of the most affordable and easy to maintain cars. It carries Hyundai’s Fludic design philosophy and thus adorns a curvier stance than its competitors.

Compact in design with an appealing front and rear, the Eon can be a great choice for those looking for a practical, reliable hatchback. The cabin is well-laid out and can easily accommodate a small family. Luggage space of 215 litres is also quite apt for a small family. The 814cc petrol engine under its hood delivers sufficient power to travel around the city and take those occasional highway trips. That said, with a claimed mileage figure of 21.1kmpl, this is one hatchback you won't have to make too many fuel stops with.