Safety is not a luxury, it's a necessity that we all must take seriously. But sadly, neither our industry nor the customers seem to understand that. While there are a number of ongoing projects which promise to make roads and cars safer, the current scenario is a little less than ideal. Allow us to explain.
Keeping the cynicism and the slight rage aside, we thought of having a look at which current hatchbacks under Rs 10 lakhs fulfill the needs (and not 'wants') i.e. offer basic safety tech. To start with, the list includes only the cars which offer active safety features (airbags) and/or driver aids (ABS mainly) as part of the standard equipment on their lowest spec variants.
1. Toyota Etios Liva
Toyota recently updated their Etios twins, and the same update has made possible for the hatchback to be featured here. The Toyota Etios Liva shares its platform with the larger Etios sedan, is offered in both petrol and diesel engine options, and is a well-balanced car in terms of ride and handling. Standard safety features on the base variant include two airbags up front (driver + passenger) and ABS on the diesel variant. Not a bad start!
2. Renault Pulse
Based on the previous Nissan Micra, the Renault Pulse is also a good package on the whole. While driving dynamics won't really excite you, but if you're looking for a family car, it does make a good choice. As for the safety tech, the base version of Pulse is offered with driver airbags as part of the standard fitment. ABS is absent on the base petrol, while it's still available as an option on the diesel variant.
3. Nissan Micra
The Micra was revamped last year and it still continues to look good. The exterior and interior updates are good enough to differentiate it from the previous version. On the safety front, much like its badge-engineered cousin from Renault, the Micra is too offered with a driver front airbag. Passenger airbag is only available from the top but one variant onwards, while ABS isn't standard either.
4. Volkswagen Polo
During the first crash test findings this year, the VW Polo was found to be lacking in terms of safety. The version tested didn't come with airbags as standard, so VW swiftly withdrew that model and replaced it with the one fitted with dual airbags. The responsible step taken by VW meant the second findings (the version with airbags) revealed a four-star rating for adult protection and three stars (out of five) for child safety. The current Polo in its basic form is available with dual airbags up front, while ABS is available from next variant onwards. It's considered to be one of the best cars in its segment in terms of ride, handling, and build quality. And the safety quotient just adds to it.
So until we have an NCAP (New Car Assesment Programme) body set up in India, it makes all the right sense in listening to what GlobalNCAP says. Words - Paranjay Dutt