12 Most Popular Cars in India (2023 Update)
India is one of the most powerful countries on the planet. With a total population of 1.417 billion people, it has a strong, fast-growing economy. On top of that, Bharat (that’s what Indians call their home) is rich in natural resources. That allows it to be self-sufficient in many key industries, including, of course, the automobile sector. And in this guide, our focus will be on the most popular cars in India.
Maruti Suzuki, a local manufacturer, is leading the show; however, it’s not the only player on the field. Overall, the following list includes 12 crowd-favored vehicles. These cars managed to top the sales charts across India in 2021. So, let’s start with the most popular nameplate and slowly make our way down the list!
The 12 Most Popular Cars in India
1. Maruti Suzuki Wagon R
|Units sold in 2021:||183,800|
|Factory price:||₹ 5.47 Lakh/6.8K USD|
|Mileage:||23.5 to 34 kmpl|
|Engine displacement:||998 to 1197 cc|
Maruti’s Wagon R tops the list of the best-selling cars in India. A 5-seater, it’s the perfect pick for the average Indian family. Fairly priced (6.8K USD for the standard edition and 9K for the premium trim), the hatchback is available in 11 different trim levels. Redesigned in 2019, it is packing a punch and is powered by petrol engines (1.0-liter or 1.2-liter). The feature set, safety standards, and controlled handling ensure a comfortable ride.
The compact dimensions, in turn, make it easier to maneuver through tight city corners. There’s also plenty of headroom and storage capacity. The cabin is a bit noisy, though. Furthermore, this isn’t exactly a sports car and can be a bit boring. But, as a family hauler, it’s a great deal! Maruti moved 183K units in 2021 in India alone. And since 1999, dealerships around the country have sold 2.2 million Wagon R cars.
2. Maruti Suzuki Swift
|Units sold in 2021:||175,020|
|Factory price:||₹ 5.91 Lakh/7.4K USD|
|Mileage:||23.2 to 30.9 km/kg|
|Engine displacement:||1197 cc|
Coming in slightly behind Wagon R with 175K sales in 12 months, Swift is another incredibly popular hatch by Maruti Suzuki. It’s a bit more expensive ($7.4K–11K) but compensated for that with a sporty attitude. It is fun to drive and can still haul up to 5 people. As for the powertrain, it is well-suited for driving both on busy highways and in crowded cities.
Fuel efficiency is well above average, too. Sadly, the car is a bit clumsy at low speeds. And, to get that “royal treatment”, you’ll have to upgrade to a more expensive trim (like one of the ZXi versions). The good news is that no matter which configuration you end up with, it will have lots of rear-seat space.
3. Maruti Suzuki Baleno
|Units sold in 2021:||1 172,200|
|Factory price:||₹ 6.42 Lakh/8K USD|
|Mileage:||22.3 to 22.9 kmpl|
|Engine displacement:||1197 cc|
This isn’t one of Maruti’s most flexible models. There’s only one engine option (Baleno shares the same 1.2-lit. 4-cyl motor with Swift) and it doesn’t work on anything but petrol. As for the trims, the company offers 7 different configurations (with a price range of $8K–12K). With that said, this hatchback is still a great bang for the buck. It’s all about the design.
Baleno received an overhaul in 2022 and looks better than ever. The exterior is a lovely combination of classic, modern, and futuristic vibes. The LED lights, trendy grille, and premium wheels turn it into a luxury vehicle. The list of interior tech/features is quite impressive as well. The cabin does get a bit noisy at times, but that’s a rather minor downside.
4. Maruti Suzuki Alto
|Units sold in 2021:||166,200|
|Factory price:||₹ 3.39 Lakh/4.2K USD|
|Mileage:||22 to 31.5 km/kg|
|Engine displacement:||796 cc|
|Seating capacity:||4 or 5|
With the top-3 best-sellers out of the way, let’s take a quick look at the slightly less popular cars in India. At the #4 spot, we have Alto. So, what makes it stand out? First, this is the least expensive option on the list. You can get it for as low as $4.2K; the premium edition will only cost you $6.3K.
If you’re on a tight budget, this could be a great investment. Do keep in mind that Alto is a compact car. Depending on the configuration, it can seat 4 or 5 people, but they’ll be a bit cramped up. The engine isn’t particularly impressive, either, yet the mileage is decent. Overall, Maruti has sold 166K units in 2021.
5. Hyundai Creta
|Units sold in 2021:||125,400|
|Factory price:||₹ 10.44 Lakh/13K USD|
|Mileage:||17 ro 21 kmpl|
|Engine displacement:||1353 to 1497 cc|
Hyundai, a Korean automobile manufacturer, has a strong foothold in the Indian market. It’s the only foreign brand that made it onto the list. Now, Creta is a full-fledged SUV. If you’re in the market for a reliable, durable, and safe vehicle, it will be a better pick compared to the Maruti hatchbacks. It provides seating for 5, 27 variants, and 5 transmissions to pick from (manual, IMT, DCT, CVT, and TC).
You will have to pay a pretty penny for Hyundai’s best-selling ride, however. The cheapest trim level (E 1.5 Petrol) costs 13K USD, while the luxurious SX (O) with the 1.5-lit diesel motor comes in at 22.8K dollars. Still, the Korean mogul sold 125K Cretas in India in 2021, landing the #5 spot.
6. Maruti Suzuki Dzire
|Units sold in 2021:||116,200|
|Factory price:||₹ 6.23 Lakh/7.8K USD|
|Mileage:||23.2 to 24.1 kmpl|
|Engine displacement:||1197 cc|
Folks interested in Indian compact sedans might want to pay extra attention to Maruti’s Dzire. A 5-seater, it can be both manual and automatic. There’s only one engine, but the impressive fuel efficiency (23.2 kmpl), nimble ride quality, and solid price ($7.8K–11.5K) make it worth your while. This is one of those “can’t-go-wrong-with” deals.
As a well-rounded package, it will please a wide range of drivers. Spacious, comfortable enough for the big road, and easy on the eyes, Dzire was the car of choice for 116K people in India in 2021. It’s not the most fun vehicle to drive, but as a stylish and capable family-friendly hauler, it does get the job done. That’s why it’s the most popular sedan in the country.
7. Maruti Suzuki Brezza
|Units sold in 2021:||115,900|
|Factory price:||₹ 7.99 Lakh/10K USD|
|Mileage:||19.8 to 19.9 kmpl|
|Engine displacement:||1462 cc|
Indians are big fans of the Maruti Suzuki brand, but what can they expect from Brezza? Is it a worthy investment? There aren’t that many reliable compact SUVs out there, and that’s what makes this model a popular choice (116K units sold). While it does get a bit expensive as you move up the tier levels (the price range is $10K–17K), you won’t be disappointed by Brezza.
It comes packed with a long list of new tech and features. On the inside, you’ll find ample storage space and headroom. The ride quality isn’t at all boring, and, thanks to the compact size, Maruti’s SUV doesn’t feel like a dinosaur when rolling through narrow traffic. As for the cons, the powertrain could’ve been a bit stronger.
8. Maruti Suzuki Eeco
|Units sold in 2021:||114,500|
|Factory price:||₹ 4.63 Lakh/5.8K USD|
|Mileage:||16.1 to 20.8 km/kg|
|Engine displacement:||1196 cc|
|Seating capacity:||5 or 7|
Don’t let the funny name fool you: Eeco is one of the finest minivans on the market. The first thing that makes it stand out is, of course, the low price for such a large vehicle: 5.8K–7.4K US dollars. Fuel efficiency is another big pro—it’s quite high for a minivan. And, you’ll be able to seat up to 7 passengers inside of Eeco. Good visibility, a mighty engine, and easy-to-use sliding doors turn into a go-to choice for taxi drivers.
In many ways, this is the replacement for Maruti’s Versa. And, judging by the sales numbers (almost 115K Eecos sold in 2021), the engineers did a great job with the new minivan.
9. Maruti Suzuki Ertiga
|Units sold in 2021:||114,400|
|Factory price:||₹ 8.35 Lakh/10.4K USD|
|Mileage:||20.3 to 26.1 km/kg|
|Engine displacement:||1462 cc|
Maruti positions Ertiga as a MUV, which stands for a multi-utility vehicle. In simpler words, it’s a versatile ride that can carry both passengers and cargo. Now, this isn’t a minivan, but it can carry up to 7 people—quite an impressive result for a car of its size. The fuel economy rating deserves our praise as well. While 20.3 km/kg can’t compete with compact SUVs or hatchbacks, for the MUV category, that’s a big achievement.
Well-cushioned seats, flat ride quality, and refined handling make Ertiga the #9 best-selling vehicle in India (114K units sold). So, how much will you have to pay for it? The entry-level trim is priced a little over $10K. The premium package, in turn, is available for $15.7K.
10. Tata Nexon
|Units sold in 2021:||108,500|
|Factory price:||₹ 7.59 Lakh/9.5K USD|
|Mileage:||16.3 to 22 kmpl|
|Engine displacement:||1199 to 1497 cc|
The Tata Group is the largest conglomerate in India with a truly international reach. As for Tata Nexon, it’s been around since 2017 and is the company’s first crossover SUV. To compete with Matuki, Tata decided to turn Nexon into the most flexible/configurable vehicle on the market. You’ll have as many as 67 variants to pick from!
The cheapest package costs $9.5K; the most expensive one will set you back $17.6K. Although this SUV has only been around for five years, it’s already a chart-climber, selling 108.5K units in 2021. This was made possible thanks to the upscale design, 5-star safety rating, and efficient powertrain.
11. Hyundai Venue
|Units sold in 2021:||108,000|
|Factory price:||₹ 7.53 Lakh/9.4K USD|
|Mileage:||17.5 to 23.4 kmpl|
|Engine displacement:||998 to 1493 cc|
Creta isn’t the only successful effort by Hyundai on the Indian market. Venue is also quite popular (108K units sold). It’s much smaller than the “big brother”, however, and is more affordable: $9.4K–16K. More good news: the recent overhaul introduced a more attractive exterior and feature-packed interior.
The 2022 edition looks and works better than ever. In many ways, Venue is the direct rival to Tata’s Nexon. And, while the Indian nameplate is a bit more appealing to the average driver, Hyundai’s offer is still one to consider. Overall, the company has sold more than 300K Cretas in India.
12. Hyundai Grand i10
|Units sold in 2021:||95,000|
|Factory price:||₹ 5.39 Lakh/6.7K USD|
|Engine displacement:||1186 to 1197 cc|
Last, but not least, we’ve got the Grand i10 Nios, yet another 5-seater hatchback. Manufactured and distributed by Hyundai, it’s the #1 competitor to Swift. Feature-packed (especially the higher tiers), spacious, and with a lovely interior, this car managed to outsell S-Presso, Celerio, and Ignis by Maruti (95K sales vs. 65K, 33K, and 32K).
The car is reasonably priced, too ($6.7K for the entry-level Era package and $10.6K for the premium Sportz AMT). It can run on petrol, diesel, and CNG. Driving it does take some getting used to, as the steering is a bit vague and the hatchback tends to bounce a bit on challenging roads.
How Big Is the Indian Automobile Market?
In 2021, Indian citizens bought 3.8 million cars. Maruti Suzuki alone sold ~1.3 million vehicles. That was a big boost compared to only 3 million in 2020. Right now, there are 295 million vehicles (both light and heavy) registered in India. However, that’s not very impressive. To put things in perspective: in 2020, the US had 286.9 million registered cars.
That number is projected to reach 290 million by 2022. If we compared the population of India to that of the States—1.4 billion versus 330 million—you’ll see that Hindustan has a lot of catching up to do. With that said, the local automobile industry is worth $222 billion. It makes up 8% of India’s exports and amounts to 7.1% of the country’s GDP. By 2030, it’s predicted to become the 3rd-largest industry in the world.
Are Indian Cars Available in the US and the EU?
Yes, automobile manufacturers from India have been exporting their cars for quite some time now. Since the production costs in India are significantly lower compared to the EU and the States, that opens a huge window of opportunities for Maruti, Tata, and Mahindra. Besides, certain EU car brands are owned by Indian companies. For example, Tata owns Land Rover and Jaguar.
As for the biggest export destinations, the US, Mexico, and South Africa are the top 3 markets. This is important: there are dozens of manufacturing facilities in India that belong to Nissan, Kia, Volkswagen, and other “big dogs”. Hyundai Grand i10, Nissan Sunny, and KIA Seltos are produced in large numbers over there and exported to other countries. In FY22, India exported 570K cars, with Maruti doing most of the work: 238K units.
In the last two decades, India has turned into one of the largest economies. And with the country slowly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and the global financial crisis, the numbers are only about to go up. That means higher wages, more houses sold, and, of course, cars bought. Today, we checked out the 12 best-selling vehicles in India.
Maruti Suzuki is the obvious leader, but Tata, Hyundai, and other brands that didn’t make it on the list are giving it a run for its money. Now, if you’re interested in buying an Indian hauler, before you pay hard-earned cash for it, make sure to go back to our list and pick a car that suits you best!
Featured Image Credit: rkarkowski, Pixabay