Monday, October 11, 2010

Car bashing

The hunt for my first car started 2 months back. After lots of research, tossing coins and test drives i decided to book ________.  Not so fast :P. There were atleast 4 cars which i finalized and wanted to book. Given that there are so many cars in the Hatchback segment, it would be unfair to finalize before doing a test drive of few cars. (Remember this line!)

Unlike the standard indian car owner, i wanted the following 2 options in my car for sure:
1. ABS
2. Airbags
Oh, one more thing: Petrol only.

With these requirements only the highest end variants would work for me. Imagine paying 6L+ for a Hatchback :(. I would prefer a stripped down version of car with these 2 options but alas, why would the car makers listen to the 0.001% kind of the Indian customers.

Rejected without Test Drives (TD):
1. Nissan Micra: Nothing great about the car except for the "truly" keyless entry and Ignition. I was impressed by the looks of Nissan March that I saw in Mauritius but Micra is way off in the looks Dept. No clue on their after sales service (A.S.S). They took 6 weeks to get back to me from the time i showed interest for TD.
2. Tata Indica Vista : Its a Tata and Taxi image :D
3. Chevy Beat: Not impressed by the Mileage, Boot space and reviews. For the features, it is truly VFM car but i never bothered to take a TD. I had booked for the TD but the Chevy folks took more than 1 month to give me a call back. I had decided not to even take a look at it.
4. VW Polo: This is one good car which i failed to TD because the showroom was closed :(. It was a bit out of my budget. Also,the cost of ownership and mileage was not really well known. Few people have reported some major issues in Team-Bhp forum. Type "VW reliability" in google and find out. I was not happy with the 1.2L 3-cylinder Noisy engine which VW has plonked in it. 1.6L is way out of my league in terms of price. But 100 BHP is the one to buy if you have too much of highway driving.
5.  Palio, Nano, WagonR, Alto, Estilo, Spark, Santro, UVA, etc etc - Never bothered to look at them.
6. Toyota Etios: Not yet launched =).

Test Drives: 
The OnRoad price of cars in Bangalore are much more as compared to other cities. I know it will be a shock but its true :P.

1. Honda Jazz (8.2+ after discounts)
This was my first TD. I loved this car very much and would have booked it if I was richer by 2x and earning 2x than current :D. My wifey was scared that I might actually book this. Anyways, she was scared of many other cars too. Whenever we did a TD and i spoke to the Sales Person (SP) for deals, she felt the same way. I am digging my grave by bringing it out again >:). Jazz basic and select models were having discounts of up to 55K. Even after this discount it was way out of my budget. Not to forget the amazing looking Jazz-X with few useful features and priced 9.25+ L onroad. Seriously, Honda has gone overboard with the price given City's success. Hope Vento beats the hell out of city and makes the "H" badge a bit cheaper. Honda is already thwarting the threat by giving insurance @ Re 1. Even Honda can bend to give discounts :P. 
Did I mention that I did the TD 2 times? :D.
After driving this car, I did not like any other car. But reality and depth of my pocket had no options but to let it go.
My Opinion:
- Buy it if you have too much of cash, you will never regret your decision.
- You will have a long affair with it and not to forget the costly sparingly available spares :D

2.  Fiat Punto (7.2-7.5 L for 1.2 and 1.4 Emotion Pack)
Even though 90% of the diesel hatches selling in India have Fiat engines, they are losers as a Car maker. They don't seem to learn from mistakes. Their A.S.S is the last thing you would trust and availability of spare parts is just next to it. They disappointed palio owners big time and looks like Punto owners are next. Even though tie up with Tata seems to have made things better, it doesn't sound logical to me. Fiat seems to be making huge profits by selling their diesel engine IP to Tata, Suzuki, etc and may be the reason for not setting up their dealerships and service centers in India. I would trust them only if they show that seriousness.
About Punto, its one of the best looking Hatches in India today. Its sales have gone from 2K units per month last year to <1K this year. IMO, Polo is seriously taking away Punto customers. Its a great handling car with worst in class turning radius and mileage.
My Opinion:
- Don't buy Punto Petrol if it is your first car. Many have regretted their decision.
- Spares and A.S.S - Fiat story continues.

3. Ford Figo (5.37L - Titanium Petrol)
Worst in Class power, best in class spaciousness, dull looks and not recognized for their A.S.S. FYI, Ford is the only car maker in US that didnt need aid from the govt during the recession. I was not impressed by the fact that the car struggled to pull 1+3 passengers on an average gradient. With AC On, it was struggling like crazy. I didnt enjoy the drive. Even though it had great visibility and handling, there was no power to take full advantage of it. The boot space is amazing but if you fill it up, it will not move >:). The Mileage and over-heating of the engine are few complaints that i read about. Even though the stereo is USB enabled, there is no USB slot. The ford folks have created themselves an opportunity to earn 1K more by providing that USB extension cable. Not to mention the wafer thin bumpers which will crack at the drop of a hat. (Not proven yet, neither do i want to).
My opinion:
- Buy if you are particular about ABS, Airbags and budget is strictly around 5L.
- Mileage, A.S.S might let you down in the long run.

4. Hyundai i10 (Asta - 5.8L after discounts, New - 6.3L)
Before the launch of New i10, the old i10 was being offered with 25K+ discounts. I spent around 3 hrs at the showroom, took a TD and gave a reverse offer to the SP that I will book it now if you convince me and give me better deal. After checking out the UK website, i was disappointed to know that all the car makers give skinny tyres and small wheels in India. Even the highest end i10 was not equipped with Alloys. They learnt their lesson and the new i10 sports Alloys for Asta. However, they are just R13s :(. This is one of the better cars for driving in city and especially for new drivers.Its a big no for the Highways unless you go and upgrade the tyres to better profile. I have not checked the new i10, so no comments on that. Looks like they have prepared themselves to thwart the threat from Alto-K10, A-Star Auto, Ritz, Etios, Figo etc. Phew, this car does compete with everyone ;).
My opinion:
-You will not regret booking this car if you want A.S.S peacefulness
- Easy to drive in the city.

5. Hyundai i20 (Asta 1.2 - 7L)
Hyundai expected to sell 2K units per month when it launched i20 but today its selling around 6-7K units per month. It is spacious, has the same 1.2L Kappa engine as the i10, Hyundai badge + A.S.S and cool features. Wonder how many people are buying the Asta :-?.  Since i was strict with my requirements, i didnt want to compromise on the safety features and Asta was my only option. I didnt like the long travel distance of the clutch, everytime i depress the clutch, my shin would scrape the under belly of the dash. This was reported by my colleague too. One SP accepted this fact while the other fellow said my driving style is wrong :). It seems Hyundai is planning to make amends for its best selling model. I have heard of AC and steering horror stories of i20. But Hyundai is not Fiat and I expect all these to be ironed out over the course of time. I was not happy with the fact that 1.4 was not available for the same price and it was available only in Auto Trans Trim. I am not impressed by the mileage figures for the 1.2. Having a big car with a small heart (1.2L engine)... hmmm. It might struggle to pull you up that slope in most of the malls :).
My Opinion:
- Buy it if spaciousness is topmost priority. I am sure many are impressed by the stereo and interiors.
- Light steering is a mixed bag. Its up to you to judge.

6. Suzuki A-Star (Dont know, Dont care)
I was stupid to listen to the SP to take a TD of this junk of a machine after learning that there are huge discounts and freebies with this car. Auto transmission was a big no because you compromise on the Mileage big time and might get bored of driving. The car was okay  till 60 kmph and reached 80 when accelerated for sometime. I dont think it is suited for highways from any angle. No comments on the crampy interiors and boot space. I guess A-Star is no star.
My Opinion:
- Don't buy it if you have prior driving experience, you will regret your decision.
- Good to buy if your req has ABS,Airbags and you might get it for 4.5-5L.
- 1.0 K-Series (or K10) engine is better than Figo's 1.2L petrol in refinement and Mileage.  

7. Suzuki Ritz (5.85 after discounts)
Except for the questionable looks, this is the best VFM hatch and a perfect all rounder. Will you believe me if i said i went to the showroom with the cheque to book a readily available White Ritz ZXI. There were many thoughts and negative reactions for this car from my family. I dont blame them, I would blame suzuki for such a design. Santro's looks were questionable when it was launched but over the period of time, it became the best seller and the mass accepted it. But it was a decade ago when the likes of Punto, Polo, Swift were not born yet. Truly speaking, once inside the car do you really care on how it looks outside. The order of the day is not just a good heart but good looks too ;). [Esp if you are spending around 6L :D].
I convinced everyone in the family regarding the price vs features vs freebies. May be, thats what I thought until they heaved a sigh of relief when i told them I am not booking it. Just missed it by a whisker.
My Opinion:
- K12  is gem of an engine. You will never regret buying this fat bottom if your digestive system is rock solid.
- Your family might not appreciate the looks and you will always end up defending the VFM tag + features.

That ends my TD vehicle list.

I booked Red Swift Zxi which i have never test driven and which was always my default choice. What's the point of choosing if you dont have choice ;). There are chances that I will be getting the new design swift 2011 but I am still not sure. You can expect a new post after 3-4 months regarding the same. Don't be surprised if i change the car and my safety reqs too. Muhahahaha >:)

-- Before taking the TD of Punto my friend who is still learning to drive put a big dent on the Linea TD vehicle :D. I had a fight with the SP before starting that TD. Both of us escaped without coughing up rokda to the Fiat guys.


annacoder said...

awesome yaar! shouldn't you be using "we" instead of "I" in this post? just sayin' :)

keerthi said...

I loved the front looks of Jazz-X too. hoping they'll work on the back. My dream car :)
- keerthi

mubashar said...

I really like your post you done great jobs. Thanks for sharing valuable information.
UK Car Parts and Spares

Arunkumar said...

@Venkat: Oru naaradhar touch theriyudhey!!!

amritevil said...

@annacoder/@Arun: I is We wherever applicable =).
@keerthi: My dream car too, but for the price :D
@mubashar: thanks

Vikash said...

Nice info..

so... jazz is the best??

amritevil said...

@Vikash: Yes. Magic Seats are too cool. Wish it was <7L.

Vikash said...

what happened to your old car??

amritevil said...

@Vikash: I have booked my first car :)