Buying a car in Pakistan is becoming an exceedingly challenging affair due in large part to a series of price hikes enforced by the automakers during the last two years.
And the sad part is that features-wise, we are still stuck in the 1900s, as the cars being offered under a certain amount, are rarely equipped with basic features such as Airbags, a Sat-nav system, traction and stability control, etc.
In the past couple of years though, mercifully, the modern cars in Pakistan have at least started offering airbags as standard but the prices of those brand new cars are still incredibly high.
To put things into perspective, a brand new Suzuki Cultus and a Kia Picanto, both of whom are sub-compact hatchbacks, are offered at around Rs. 2 million these days. In terms of features, they have power-windows, centrally locking doors, a couple of airbags, an A/C, ABS brakes, an LCD based audio system (Cultus doesn’t have that), and the list pretty much ends right there.
The point is, Rs. 2 million is an insanely high price for the cars that are “less than basic” as the ones mentioned above. However, at the same price point, if you were willing to look at the options that are a bit older, you might end up with a car that offers multiple times more driving comfort, features, luxury, and desirability. Here’s a list of 6 best cars that you can get for under Rs. 2 million:
Note: This list is NOT about budget cars or cars that are “cheap to own”. That’s another list that we’ll do in the future.
# 6: 6th Gen Mitsubishi Lancer GLX 1.6
This is perhaps the only “budget car” on the list since you can find it currently listed for sale on various online platforms under Rs. 1.5 million. But it still makes the list because it is easily one of the most underrated cars in the market.
The few people who bought this car were taken by surprise due to its punchy performance and ride quality. The 1.6-liter naturally aspirated 4 cylinder engine made a respectable 108 horsepower and 150 newton/meters of torque and could be mated to a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic gearbox.
The car had a MacPherson Struts suspension setup upfront and a multi-link coil spring suspension outback, as opposed to a torsion bar setup being offered in multiple other cars at the same price point and segment, giving it a much more comfortable ride. It also had ventilated disc brakes up front with ABS technology, and drum brake on the rear.
In terms of design, all the cars from this era had started becoming bloated and heavy, while the Lancer maintained its sleek, simple, and elegant look, all while offering a very roomy cabin, excellent ergonomics, and superior outside visibility.
However, the reason why this car is ranked at the bottom is that the car had some recurring reliability issues with the spark-plugs and the front suspension, which prevented many motorists from buying it. The other hurdle was, of course, the insufficiency of spare part dealers and mechanics, which made the maintenance of the Lancer a bit of a bother.
Another problem is that this particular car is that most of these, that are listed for sale, are in pretty bad shape after being driven for a long time or having been kept in a reckless way. But if you can find one in a good condition within Rs. 1.5 million, it will be one of the best purchases you’ll ever make.
# 5: 10th Gen Toyota Corolla Altis 1.6
Say what you will about the Toyota Corolla, but in the Pakistani market, it is the ruler of all things on 4 wheels. Still a preference for most of the motorists in Pakistan, regardless of the generation, the Corolla is a car that holds up in terms of both, the reliability and the resale value.
The 10th generation facelift version of the Corolla Altis was offered with a 1.6 liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder 1ZR-FE engine that made a healthy 124 horsepower and 154 newton/meters of torque. The car was offered with a 5-speed manual or a 4-speed super ECT automatic transmission.
The car had a MacPherson Struts coil spring suspension setup up front and a torsion bar coil spring suspension outback. The torsion bar setup was although reliable, but it had a tendency to terribly upset the car on a bumpy road and reduced chassis compliance as well.
The car has ABS braking with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD). In terms of the general setup, the car has ventilated discs up front and solid discs out back. Though it bears mentioning that the brake response of the car is not immediate. There is a lot of paddle travel involved before the car actually starts to slow down. Plus, due to the car being big and heavy, the brake pads tend to have a rather short lifespan.
Still, generally, the car is good looking, reasonably comfortable, tremendously reliable, and holds up well in terms of market value as well. Given those factors, and the fact that this car can be had for Rs. 1.6 million to Rs. 1.8 million in a good condition, the Corolla Altis 1.6 from the said era is also among the better choice under Rs. 2 million.
#4: 8th Gen Honda Civic A.K.A Civic Reborn
There have been fewer cars in Pakistani history to ever have generated as much buzz as the Civic Reborn did back when it came out. The super sleek design that still looks modern today, the freshly introduced digital speedometer, a modern cockpit and interior design with a completely flat floor on the back for improved foot-space, the floor-mounted throttle paddle, the dual exhaust among other noteworthy features, all made for a vehicle that gave the Pakistani auto-industry a new and bold direction altogether.
The car featured a 1.8 liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder R18A1 engine that made a very strong 140 horsepower and 174 newton/meters of torque, making it the strongest performing locally assembled car at the time. The car was offered with a 5-speed manual and a 5-speed automatic transmission.
The car had Macpherson Strut coil spring suspension up front and a double-wishbone coil spring suspension outback, giving the car a sporty feel even around fast corners. However, the sporty ride resulted in slightly compromised comfort, as numerous Honda owners have reported that the ride of the car is too harsh and bumpy.
The brakes of the car were also fairly strong for the time. The car was equipped with ventilated discs both upfront and outback, along with ABS and EBD technology.
In terms of design, there was absolutely nothing quite like the 8th Gen Civic in the Pakistani market at the time. The smooth flowing lines and a razor-sharp silhouette of the car made for a remarkably stylish machine that still looks better the most cars being offered today in the Pakistani market.
However, all that glitters isn’t fuel-efficient unfortunately. The engine might be powerful, but it makes the car tremendously thirsty and expensive to run on a day-to-day basis. Plus, given that it’s a modern Honda, the car doesn’t take kindly to a lot of roughhousing. It is meant to be driven on the big city roads only.
Still, given its fantastic looks, punchy performance, decent reliability, and the fact that these cars were sold in large numbers in Pakistan, the 8th gen Honda Civic is another car that can be easily found in a good condition for under Rs. 2 million.
#3: 1st Gen Toyota Premio
One of KP’s favorite cars, the 1st Generation Premio is known for its simple architecture, strong performance, comfort, built quality, and reliability. However, since the Premio is considered to be a luxury car, the newer model in a good shape would set you back about 2.9 million, which is a good option if you have that sort of budget.
In fact, 1st gen is so desirable that even a few 1st Gen Premios are listed for sale at over 2 million. But, given that this car is fairly old and there were plenty of these imported to the Pakistani market, you can easily find a well-kept, albeit frequently driven cars in the market for under Rs. 2.0 million.
The car was most commonly found in Pakistan with either one of the two engines. One of them was the 1.5 liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder 1NZ-FE petrol engine that made 110 horsepower and 140 newton/meters of torque. The other one was the 1.8 liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder 1ZZ-FE petrol engine that made 130 horsepower and 170 newton/meters of torque. Both variants could only be had with a 4-speed automatic gearbox.
The suspension setup of the car consisted of a MacPherson strut coil spring setup up front and a torsion bar coil spring setup outback. Furthermore, the car has ventilated disc brakes with ABS technology upfront, and conventional drum brakes outback.
Styling-wise, the 1st Gen Premio was perhaps the best looking of all the Premios that have come out so far. By today’s standards, it looks slightly old but in a good way. There are no silly over-styled body-panels, fake vents, no ridiculous-looking headlights or taillights, or any unnecessary cuts and creases on the body to make it look sporty.
The subdued yet elegant design for the car with a clean and symmetrically flowing lines give the car a timeless charm that will remain fresh for as long as we see these on the road. Given the aforementioned elements and characteristics, the 1st gen Premio is also an amazing car that can be had for under Rs. 2 million.
#2: 9th Gen Toyota Mark II
If you’re a gear-head and you come to learn that you can get a JZ powered car for under Rs, 2 million, your ears will definitely perk up a little bit. Sure, we didn’t get the many of the fabled 1JZ-GTE turbocharged version in Pakistan (that we know of), but the 9th gen Mark II in any form is still a big, luxurious, 6-cylinder powerhouse that can offer you the riding pleasure that not many cars in our market can.
The Mark II was never officially offered in Pakistan but was imported to the country by a lot of people back in the good old days. The car was imported with a 2.0 naturally-aspirated inline 6-cylinder 1G-FE petrol engine that made 160 horsepower and 200 newton/meters of torque. However, the power was slightly on the lower side given that the car weighed in at a rather hefty 1.4 tons.
There are however a few Mark-IIs in the market that feature the mighty 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline 6-cylinder 1JZ-GE petrol engine that made a sufficient 200 horsepower and 251 newton/meters of torque. In the international market, the car could also have been had with a 5-speed manual transmission, but in Pakistan, almost all of the cars only have a 4-speed automatic transmission.
In terms of comfort, the Mark-II is definitely the best of the bunch. Along with a super spacious and luxurious interior, the car is made even more comfortable and floaty with the help of a double-wishbone suspension setup both upfront and outback. The car also has a decent stopping power thanks to ventilated disc brakes up front and solid disc brakes outback, with ABS technology.
In terms of looks, you get a typical executive feel whenever you catch the glimpse of the Mark-II. The large size, the low slung stance, the chrome bits and pieces on the exterior, and the large and imposing headlights and taillights speak out loud that the Mark-II is a boss car. And you can get all that luxury, comfort, and strong performance for under Rs. 2 million in a reasonable condition.
And before we move on to the number one choice, here are some of the honorable mentions:
- N16 Nissan Sunny
- Honda Airwave
- 1st Gen Nissan Juke
- 2nd Gen Toyota Prius
- 9th Gen Toyota Crown
- 8th Gen Mitsubishi Galant
- 9th Gen Toyota Camry
- 4th Gen (E46) BMW 3-Series
- W203 Mercedes Benz C-Class
- 5th Gen Hyundai Sonata
#1: 7th Gen CL7/CL9 Honda Accord
It was only fair to place a timeless classic at the very top of the list. It is hard to believe that the 7th Gen Accord was conceived 18 years ago, as it is to this day, one of the most handsome looking sedans, not just in the Pakistani market, but the entire world.
Most of the cars imported to the Pakistani Market back in the day had a 2.4 liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine that made a plentiful 200 horsepower and 232 newton/meters of torque. In the foreign markets, the car could be had with a 5-speed manual gearbox as well. But like all other imports, a vast majority of the cars brought to the Pakistani market are equipped with a 5-speed automatic transmission.
The Accord is a big and sporty sedan, yet it doesn’t compromise on comfort either. The car is equipped with a MacPherson Struts coil spring suspension setup up front and a multi-link coil spring suspension outback. Furthermore, the car features ventilated disc brakes with ABS technology on the front and the rear.
In terms of design, the CL7-CL9 Accord is perhaps one of the best-looking cars of all time. Even more so than any of the modern Honda models. The car has impeccable aesthetics that are razor-sharp, yet elegant.
The timeless design of the super-sleek headlights and taillights, which Honda follows for all of its cars to this day, is absolutely Iconic. Even after 18 years, no one can say, just by looking at the exterior, that the CL9 Honda Accord is an old car.
The interior of the car might’ve aged slightly because of the lack of features and older design, but it is still fairly luxurious. The car has soft-touch materials all around, 6 airbags, leather seats, cruise control, Sat-Nav, and a few other modern features that were uncommon for the time, at least in the Pakistani market. Given all of these factors, the CL7/CL9 Honda Accord is perhaps the best option out of the bunch.
Granted that these cars would all be expensive to own and the maintenance bills would cost a lot and they would drink a lot of fuel, but if you’re a car enthusiast, and you have a budget for the cars, they would make a fantastic addition to the garage.
The daily runabout can be done on a city car that cost just about as much as the aforementioned cars. But if you’re looking to have a good time occasionally without breaking the bank, the aforementioned list of cars is guaranteed to offer you a fulfilling driving experience.