Maruti Ritz is the latest to join the small automatic hatchback bandwagon.

Automatic cars are progressively becoming a popular choice with Indian buyers. This is especially true for those doing most of their driving within the city. After all, in this age of growing urban traffic density, a clutchless car is the most convenient. And considering the popularity of hatchbacks in the domestic market, a small car with auto transmission is the perfect city car today. There are a number of small automatic hatchbacks you can buy in India these days, and the latest to join the ranks is the Maruti Ritz.

The Ritz was also recently given a mid-life upgrade. The nose is now slightly altered and is lower mounted with a one-piece grille. The fenders now rise up above the bonnet ‘V’, the headlights are sharper, and the interiors have received minor updates as well. The rest of the car remains pretty much the same, which means the ride is comfortable and it’s great for the daily commute thanks to its compact dimensions.

The four-speed automatic gearbox is similar to the one in the Swift Dzire and A-star, and as a daily office commuter, the Ritz auto is a likeable car. It takes off eagerly from a standstill and even part-throttle responses are good. Thanks to this, you can easily keep up with other cars in traffic and it never feels underpowered. However, as you press on, there is a bit of a delay in the response and it takes time for the gearbox to drop down to a suitable gear. As the transmission has only four speeds, the gear ratios are quite tall. So every time the gearbox shifts to a lower gear it is usually at a very high engine rpm and consequently, the engine also becomes very noisy.

Thankfully the VVT-equipped engine revs freely and is quite refined right up to the redline (VVT or variable valve timing was introduced with the facelift). As with the other cars in this class, there’s no manual control or paddle shifters for the gearbox. Instead, you are left with the old-school ‘3, 2 and L’ gearlever configuration for added control.

At Rs. 6.19 lakh (the Ritz auto is only available in one trim — VXi ABS), it is very expensive. And when you consider that this is a whopping Rs. 92,000 more than the much better equipped manual ZXi variant, it becomes even harder to justify the asking price. And let’s not forget, there will be a drop in fuel efficiency compared to the manual version.

The Ritz was always a very good family hatchback, thanks to its perky responses, comfortable ride and compact dimensions, and now it has become more convenient too. We just wish it didn’t come at such a heavy price.