New Delhi: As the crude price is on rise CNG cars have gone from being fleet-cab staples to perfectly viable choices for private transport. The choices, however, aren’t evenly spread across segments with Maruti Suzuki being the only brand to offer an extensive range of CNG options, across their portfolio. At present, the brand has 11 models, factory-fitted to run on CNG (and petrol).
As a customer and owner of a petrol car, you are free to have a CNG conversion kit installed. However, apart from the additional cost of roughly Rs 30,000 – Rs 50,000 incurred, a customer stands to lose the warranty provided by the car brand. That is, if your car is “CNG approved”. In addition to this, you must know that while CNG cars are cheaper to run, the kit and the CNG container will take up a considerable amount of boot space.
CNG filling stations are also harder to find, making it a viable option only for a select number of cities. The resale value of CNG cars also happens to be lower than that of a petrol car. It’s also worth noting that all the cars with factory-fitted CNG kits, currently on sale in India, come with less than stellar passenger crash safety credentials – something that should be factored into your purchase. With that out of the way, if you’re still in the market for a CNG-powered vehicle, and are required to travel long distances everyday, here are some of the best options for you.
1 Maruti Wagon-R
When it comes to practicality and ease of ownership, few cars can keep up with the heroic Wagon R. The ease of ingress and egress makes it a viable option if you have elderly family members while Maruti’s stellar service network and servicing costs continue to place the Wagon R on the monthly best-selling car list. The CNG-kitted option gets a frugal 998cc petrol motor, mated to a manual gearbox and under optimal driving conditions can eke out an ARAI tested mileage of 32.52 km/kg of CNG. At present, the Wagon R CNG version is available only with the LXi and LXi (O) trim. ( Price Rs 5.89 lakh (Ex-showroom)
2 Hyundai Grand i10 NIOSIf Maruti’s models are too minimalistic for your liking, the CNG-compatible Hyundai Grand i10 Nios might be worth considering. Sure, the Sportz 1.2-litre Kappa VTVT option (the top most CNG variant) might cost a bit more, but its features list includes a reverse camera, ABS, EBD, rear A/C vents, front and rear power windows and electronically adjustable RVMs. Apart from that, the naturally-aspirated 1.2-litre petrol engine offers marginally greater levels of power (65 bhp). Mileage, although more than sufficient, takes a bit of a hit at 18.9 km/kg. On the whole, however, the overall cabin quality and comfort levels are higher than those of its main competitors.
Price:Rs 7.53 lakh (ex-showroom)
3. Maruti Ertiga
The Ertiga manages to mitigate, if not outrightly solve, the issue of space constraint that plagues all CNG-compatible vehicles. With the exception of the Maruti Eeco, it’s also the only factory-fitted CNG car that can seat seven. With the rear-most seating row folded, it also adds to the storage space, while still being able to seat five. One of Maruti Suzuki’s best-selling cars in India, only the VXi petrol variant of the Ertiga can be bought with a factory-fitted CNG kit. It’s 1.46-litre, naturally-aspirated petrol engine, post CNG-conversion, puts out a robust 91bhp making it a more powerful option for those looking for some extra grunt. Dashboard quality continues to be less than stellar, but on all other fronts, the Ertiga CNG is an impressive mix of frugality and comfort, with an ARAI claimed mileage of 26.2km/kg. Of the cars mentioned here, the Ertiga is the only one which has received a 3-star Global NCAP safety rating.
Price:Rs 9.66 lakh (ex-showroom)
4 Maruti Suzuki S Presso
The S-Presso was engineered to a young crowd and features a wide SUV-like stance, something that the youth definitely likes. Starting at Rs 3.71 lakh, the S-Presso gets features like Maruti Suzuki’s Smartplay 2.0 infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto along with a host of other features. Powering the hatchback is the discontinued Alto K10’s 1-litre motor upgraded to BS-VI.
Sitting on the opposite side of the size spectrum is the pint-sized S-Presso. Featuring the same 998cc, petrol engine found in the Wagon R and gets a meagre 58bhp of power. However, the S-Presso benefits from a lower kerb weight and higher ground clearance, upping its practicality quotient. It’s got a pretty lacklustre features list, but parking sensors and bluetooth enabled sound system are included. It’s appalling safety-rating aside (0 star Global NCAP rating) the S-Presso is a viable option for those switching to a four-wheeler from a two-wheeler. It’s claimed mileage of 32.2 km/kg is one of the best in the list, and its compact dimensions make it very easy to drive in the city.
Price: Rs 5.37 lakh (ex-showroom)
5. Maruti Suzuki Eeco
The Eeco regularly features on the monthly “top 10 best-selling cars” list and it’s easy to see why. Nothing in its price range offers the kind of space and potential for customisation as this van. Sure, the absence of extensive safety features is a cause for concern, but that hasn’t stopped it from being a popular choice for both private and commercial transport. While the CNG option is available only with a 5-seat configuration, it’s really the abundance of space that’s allowed it a spot on this list. Powered by a frugal 1198cc petrol motor, the CNG-fitted Eeco isn’t suited to linear speeds. But pretty much nothing in this price range offers the kind of utility, and fuel efficiency (An ARAI tested 19.2km/kg) as this gentle giant.