Base Variant of a Premium Car or Top Variant of a Budget Car? What to Choose?

Buying a premium car is not very difficult these days. Manufacturers are offering premium features at more affordable price ranges now. This is where it gets tricky. As the premium cars get cheaper, they overlap with the top variants of a budget car in both price and feature lists.

cheap luxury cars

So which one is the better choice? Base Variant of a Premium Car or Top Variant of a Budget Car?

We discuss the pros and cons of choosing the Base Variant of a Premium Car and the Top Variant of a Budget Car in this article.

Price Tag

Having sufficient funds to afford a premium car is not enough reason to choose one. Luxury brands are now building cars to compete with the cars in the lower price bracket. Therefore, when a premium car and a budget car are available at the same price range, it makes the choice even harder.

Budget Models Ex-showroom Price Premium Models Ex-showroom Price
Renault Kiger 5.84 – 10.40 Lakh Kia Carens 9.60 – 17.70 Lakh
Tata Nexon 7.55 – 13.90 Lakh Mahindra Scorpio 13.54 – 18.62 Lakh
Mahindra XUV300 8.41 – 14.07 Lakh Mahindra XUV700 13.18 – 24.58 Lakh
MG Astor 9.98 – 17.73 Lakh Toyota Innova Crysta 17.86 – 25.68 Lakh

There are the obvious advantages you get from a premium car like the brand name and amenities. Can it be the only deciding factor for choosing it when you can get the same set of features in a top variant of a budget car? Absolutely not.

So, let us take a look at more important factors before settling on a choice.

Total Cost of Ownership

We saw in the earlier paragraph how the buying cost might not be fully helpful in deciding between the variants. However, the same cannot be said for the cost of owning a car.

Warranties for the new cars cover different periods for different makes and models. Some premium models may come with extended warranties that are not offered on a mainstream model.

Kia Carens

TCO is the total cost to own a car for a five year period. It includes the amount you will spend on fuel, depreciation cost, insurance, maintenance, repairs, and service of the car during that 5 year period.

The table below has the approximate estimate of the total costs of ownership for some budget models and premium models. For the budget models, we have the TCO for the top-end variant while the base variants for the premium models are taken into consideration.

We have also kept the daily travel at a minimum of 500 km/ month (or 6000 km yearly). So you can safely assume this as the base TCO for these models.

Budget Models Total Cost of Ownership (approx. for 5 years) Premium Models Total Cost of Ownership (approx. for 5 years starting from)
Renault Kiger 10 Lakh Kia Carens 8 Lakh
Tata Nexon 12.5 Lakh Mahindra Scorpio 12 Lakh
Mahindra XUV300 13 Lakh Toyota Innova Crysta 18 Lakh

You can see that the cost of owning a premium car is comparable to budget cars and lower in some cases. It becomes significant savings in terms of the total cost for a buyer.

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Brand Image

It is debatable whether to buy a car from a regular brand with all the bells and whistles or to settle for a premium brand model but without the latest tech.

Driving a car that has a premium brand badge on top is a sign of success. If the brand image is something you resonate with, then, go for it. It is, after all, everyone’s personal choice.

Buyers are offered lower maintenance and repair costs even with an entry model as well. This can keep the TCO of your car low.


The top variant of a budget car will include all the advanced features you can get in its segment. You will find the same in the base variant of a premium car. Some essential features may be offered only in the mid-level and higher variants.

Renault Cars

If the latest features are an important factor in your decision, you would do better to go with the top variant of a budget car as you will get more out of it for the price.

However, features like an all-wheel-drive are not offered in budget cars even with the top variants. But some premium models offer them even in the lowest variant.

The same applies to advanced safety features. Check out the safety features you desire and the model that offers a better deal.


Whatever the brochure tells you, always go for a test drive in the models you have shortlisted. It makes a huge difference. You can test the ride quality, handling and comfort of the car first-hand by yourself.

Premium cars obviously put comfort and convenience on top of their priorities. This does not mean budget cars will not meet your needs either. So experience the drive before making the final decision.


To summarise, we can understand there’s not much price difference between a budget car’s highest variant and a premium model’s base variant.

Premium cars stand on a rung below the luxury cars and one above a common road car. These days the normal budget cars are trying to have on leg up by offering models with more features and comfort. This has created an overlap between the premium and budget models leaving a very slight gap in differences.

Due to this reason, there are many consumers who tend to buy a top variant from a budget model. It serves their purpose with all the features they desire. There are others who prefer the brand image and the quality that is promised from a premium model.

The overall quality and driving experience are what drive the deciding factor between these variants. Be clear about your needs and priorities. Following that, you can compare the trims which offer your preferred features as standard or optional and compare the prices. Pick the one which suits you better.

Let us know in the comment section if this article was helpful.

Read more such articles at CarJasoos Auto Blog!

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