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If You’re Planning To Buy Your First Car, Here Are 5 Pocket-Friendly Models To Consider

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Whether it’s a gift from your parents for getting straight As or your first big purchase as you transition into your adult working life, your first car is going to be something you always remember. It may not be big or fancy, but it will be yours and will likely be the first big asset you ever have to manage. While that may seem daunting, choosing the good right car for yourself is even more of a challenge.

There are so many options out there and the first thing you have to decide is if you want a sedan like a Honda Civic, a crossover like the Nissan Rogue or something that is a little more exciting like a coupe, such as a Ford Mustang. Good luck convincing your parents on that last option, though.

More goes into the decision than simply what looks good or even what fits your budget. You’re likely to own your first car for at least five years, unless you land a big promotion really early at your first job or win the lottery. Thus, you need to consider what your needs will be during this time period as your life becomes more complicated and your responsibilities increase.

You should also take into account nitty-gritty details such as maintenance costs and the price of repair if, heaven forbid, you ever get into an accident. It’s a lot to take in and nobody can blame you for being overwhelmed. That’s why it’s nice to have a list of some of the best first-time cars to see what is out there before tailoring the options to fit your personal lifestyle.

With that in mind, here are five affordable vehicles across various categories that make for a great first car:

Maruti Suzuki Swift

The Suzuki Swift is a popular hatchback available in many places around the world, and not just because it is super cheap. It treads the line between fun and practicality really well, and can make the transition into responsible adulthood a little less of a drag. The base engine doesn’t have a lot of power on tap — only 83 hp and 113 Nm of torque — but it doesn’t need more. As a hatchback, the Swift is small and light on its feet, so even the smallest kick in the pants can get it to move quickly.

Another advantage of its low-powered engine is great fuel economy. A single tank of gas can last you ages, meaning big savings in the long run. And when you’re living on a student budget, you’ll be grateful for that. To top it all off, hatchbacks are highly practical, with a lot of cargo capacity for groceries or all the laundry on your weekend trip back home. One of the downsides of the design, though, is its rather cramped rear seats.

So long as you don’t plan on carpooling all your friends around town, the Suzuki Swift is an excellent first-time buy, and with low maintenance costs and a decent warranty, it should last you a long time.

Maruti Suzuki S-Presso

If you’re looking for something a bit bigger and more rugged than a hatchback, then the S-Presso is a nice alternative. Not quite an SUV, this subcompact crossover will still give you that higher driving position that makes the classification so popular, as well as high safety ratings that go with what could be considered a family car.

In line with that assessment, the S-Presso has more space in the back seat if you want to pack it full with people, and it will still provide you ample room in the trunk for luggage or groceries. But just because it’s a little bigger, don’t think this Suzuki doesn’t know how to have some fun. The interior definitely seems to suggest this, with its funky dash designs, which look great in bold colours.

The engine is peppy and you get the trademark Suzuki handling dynamics. Thanks to its larger size, the S-Presso doesn’t get the optimal mileage figures of a smaller Swift, but it’s still very frugal. But it’s easy to drive and provides a great peace of mind with its high safety and reliability ratings.

Hyundai Grand i10

Unsurprisingly, the Grand i10 is another popular hatchback for modern urbanites. It’s also among the cheapest new cars to own and is just as affordable to run, thanks to excellent fuel economy figures. The powertrain isn’t all that lively, but it supplies a decent amount of low-end torque to make city driving feel less tedious, and once you get it up to speed on the highway, it cruises along without a fuss.

On the busy city street and in packed parking lots, it feels right at home, thanks to its diminutive footprint. Manoeuvring around is really easy with its precise steering and tight turning circle. To further its value as a daily driver, it provides plenty of front passenger space and the back seat is adequate for short trips around town. The trunk is commodious and easily accessed through the liftgate.

To top it all off, the Hyundai has a nice standard infotainment suite with steering wheel-mounted controls for better accessibility. Many cheaper cars forego these simple luxuries and conveniences in favour of cost-cutting, but the Korean automaker has learned how to make it work on a budget.

Tata Nexon

If all these city slicker hatchbacks and crossovers aren’t to your liking, then maybe you’d prefer the more rugged-looking Nexon? With more of a genuine SUV design, it has that sport and capable aesthetic that you can’t help but be drawn to. You also get more options than many cheaper competitors when it comes to what powers the Nexon. Two diesel engines and one petrol option mean you can tailor your purchase to your budget and desires.

There is no available all-wheel drivetrain, sadly, but the Tata does ride quite high, so it can handle some wet weather and a little mud in a pinch. The standard fog lights and independent front and rear suspension just lend credence to its reputation as a more rugged urban runabout. Naturally, all this dependability would mean nothing if the Nexon wasn’t safe. But fear not, it scored an excellent five-star rating from the New Car Assessment Programme standard and comes with some really nice safety features.

The icing on the cake is its spacious cabin and high level of utility. The trunk is accommodating and easy to access, and there are loads of little nooks to store things around the cabin.

Hyundai Venue

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The Venue is a popular car not just in India but around the world, earning a top-20 spot for sales in the US. It’s more than just an affordable crossover, though. It is an excellent value for money, ticking almost every box on a first-time buyer’s list of needs and wants. The price will draw you in, but it’s the spacious cabin and long list of standard specs that will see you signing on the dotted line.

The cabin is well-appointed, but what really impresses is the fact that you can comfortably seat four full-size adults. Unfortunately, the trunk is not as much of a highlight, though it is sufficient for most daily needs. Considering how little you are paying, the base Venue gets a fair amount of tech, such as forward collision avoidance and lane-keep assist, a large touchscreen for the infotainment system, and full smartphone integration.

Another low point for the Venue is its powertrain. A naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine means you don’t have a lot of horsepower and fuel economy doesn’t excel either. Luckily, the small size and weight of the crossover means that there is still enough to hustle it around town, but it runs out of breath on the highway quite easily.

A Long Line Of Capable Runners-Up

Just because the abovementioned names are some of the best affordable options and among the top sellers in India, it doesn’t mean they are your only options. There are plenty of other great cars out there with attractive price tags. If you have your heart set on something practical that will last you a long time, the Kia Seltos or Soul are excellent alternatives, while the Honda Fit remains a solid pick in the hatchback segment.

However, if you want a little fun in your life, then the Honda Civic Sedan is a good option, especially if you can spring for the sportier Si model. The Ford Mustang is another good car, particularly if American muscle ponies appeal to you. It’s a little more expensive, but it’s hard to put a price on fun.

If you want the best of both worlds, you may want to consider a hot-hatch. The aforementioned Honda Civic is available in hatchback configuration, as is the Mazda 3. The latter is a very stylish option that also comes outfitted with a fair degree of modern tech features.

Regardless of what you end up buying, remember that your first car is just a stepping stone. Sure, it’s an important step, but try to have fun with and. And take the lessons you learn and apply them when you’re ready to trade in for something newer and better.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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