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Before we begin this list, there’s a few things I want to point out personally.

In the last few years, diesel has been the victim of global hate, on the hands of a few world leaders and ‘intellectuals’. Some manufacturers too have completely given up on diesel and have switched to a petrol-only lineup or are investing in hybrid and EV tech. Meanwhile, in our very own National Capital, most of you would be familiar with the 10-year limit for diesel vehicles. That last bit is crucial, since it affects the mindset of someone looking to buy a car. I have personally heard former diesel car owners saying they had to start looking for buyers in the 7th or 8th year of ownership.

However, there’s only a few things that beat the feeling of effortlessly cruising on a highway at good speeds, munching miles, and taking a glance at the fuel meter, only to see that there’s still a substantial amount of fuel left. If you’re someone who agrees with me and is looking to buy a diesel car, here are the most affordable diesel cars in India today.

Tata Altroz

most affordable diesel cars in india

The Tata Altroz is the only premium hatchback, or rather the only hatchback in India that offers a diesel powertrain today. A 1.5-litre mill that comes mated with a 5-speed manual, it produces 88.7 bhp and 20.39 kgm of torque. If you’re asking that question, the ARAI-claimed mileage figure is 23.64 kmpl.

At a price tag of Rs 8.89 lakh (ex-showroom), the XM+ is the most affordable variant to pick, and it comes with a decent level of kit too, such as a 7-inch touch screen, a reverse parking camera, height adjustable driver seat, and cruise control. In the earlier GNCAP tests, the Altroz had also secured a five-star safety rating, in case you have safety on your mind.

Mahindra Bolero Neo

most affordable diesel cars in india

At Rs 9.94 lakh (ex-showroom), the Mahindra Bolero Neo comes in second. The Bolero Neo continues to be one of the only compact SUVs in the segment with a ladder frame chassis and a rear differential, thus making it way more capable than the likes of its front-wheel driven rivals (and its other sibling, the 3XO).

most affordable diesel cars in india

The Neo’s 1.5-litre mill puts out 100 bhp and 26.5 kgm of torque, while paired to a 5-speed manual, and returning an ARAI-claimed mileage of 17.29 kmpl. However, while reverse parking sensors, two airbags, eco mode, engine immobiliser, and power windows come as standard, it misses out on even the most basic bluetooth/USB/AUX music system. If you’re dead-set on buying the Bolero Neo, consider the N8 variant, which is priced at Rs 10.63 lakh (ex-showroom).

Mahindra Bolero

most affordable diesel cars in india

If you’re someone who loves old-school, it doesn’t get better than this. The OG Bolero is still around, and quite honestly, it’s a car the author of this story is dying to buy and own someday, especially considering that time is running out rather rapidly. Even with its truck-like traits, the Bolero has so much character, and when you’re behind the wheel of one, you feel like a local mafia boss.

That said, the OG Bolero will definitely not appeal to a majority of people in this day and age. It isn’t the most spacious, or the most feature-loaded either, and there’s no option of CarPlay or Android Auto at all. However, you can trust the Bolero to traverse through some of the worst terrain this country can throw at you. While NVH levels are actually rather commendable and it still has that fabulous air-con, the catch here is that your passengers will curse you because of the bouncy ride quality. Let’s not forget the 1.5-litre diesel engine, which has to be worked through that archaic 5-speed gearbox, the powertrain putting out 74.9 bhp and 21.41 kgm of torque. However, with an ARAI-claimed 16 kmpl, it will somewhat manage to keep you happy.

most affordable diesel cars in india
Can you believe these interiors in 2024?!

The base B4 variant is priced at Rs 9.97 lakh, but the mid-range B6 is the one to get (Rs 10.18 lakh, ex-showroom), as it additionally offers you a bluetooth/USB/AUX music system as standard, while also combining standard safety features such as two front airbags, ABS, reverse parking sensors, and seat belt reminders as well.

Tata Nexon

most affordable diesel cars in india

According to various comment sections across social media, the Tata Nexon is either the most loved compact SUV in the country, or the most hated. However, if we keep jokes aside for a moment, the Nexon actually offers a decent amount of bang for your buck.

most affordable diesel cars in india

The Nexon’s base diesel is the Smart + 1.5, which can be had for Rs 9.99 lakh (ex-showroom). The Nexon Smart + 1. offers you LED headlamps, connected tail-lamps, six airbags, ESP, ISOFIX child seat mounts, a four-speaker sound system, a 7-inch touch screen infotainment system with CarPlay and Android Auto, three driving modes, and a reverse parking camera with static guidelines. The Nexon’s 1.5-litre diesel has remained unchanged from its previous iteration, putting out 113 bhp and 25.49 kgm of torque. However, this one makes do with a 5-speed manual instead of the 6-speed unit on higher variants. It also returns a claimed ARAI mileage figure of 23.23 kmpl. Good looks, a fuel efficient motor, and a good balance of safety features and creature comforts; isn’t that more than enough for a daily driver?

Mahindra XUV 3XO


most affordable diesel cars in india
The XUV 3X0 has a polarising front-end

The newest kid on the block here, the Mahindra XUV 3XO’s diesel lineup begins from the MX2, which is priced at Rs 9.99 lakh (ex-showroom). Under the hood, the XUV 3XO continues with the 1.5-litre diesel powertrain, producing 115 bhp and 30.59 kgm of torque. Unlike other cars in this list, the XUV 3XO gets a 6-speed manual transmission.

most affordable diesel cars in india

You’ll have to make to with steel rims on the outside, but the features list includes a 10.25-inch infotainment system, a four-speaker sound system, keyless entry/exit, steering-mounted audio controls, rear A/C vents, engine start/stop, power-adjustable ORVMs, six airbags, ESC, ISOFIX child seat mounts, reverse parking sensors, and seat belt reminder among other things. Perhaps a comparison between the Nexon and the 3XO might clear things up?

These are currently the most affordable diesel cars you can buy in our country today. While most diesel cars come at a premium compared to their petrol siblings, the fact that one has to shell out over Rs 10 lakh (when you include taxes, registration and insurance) is rather sad indeed. However, that’s just the way it is. Ideally, the buyer should not be told what to drive or what not to drive, and hence the best thing to do is just go for the diesel if you like it, and enjoy your time and miles on it.