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Old 13th October 2006, 13:35   #1
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Default Where are the driver-oriented cars? The Honda Citys, Lancers, Balenos etc.?

Reading through this thread got me thinking....



Do you remember how exciting it was, just when the calendar turned "Y2000"? We had the Honda City, Mitsubishi Lancer and Maruti Baleno launches in the 8 lac rupee bracket. While all of them were positioned as upmarket family sedans, they certainly were enthusiast cars to drive. Even the Ford Ikon 1.6 and the Fiat Palio 1.6 were launched around the same time. Further extending this club was the fast Maruti Esteem MPFi which really wasnt so outdated then. Just imagine the choices that an enthusiast had back then for 8 lac rupees?

Although some of them may be termed as outdated today, in the Y2000....they were as modern as can be.

The characteristics clearly were:
  • Anywhere between 90 - 100 BHP on tap (which was a LOT for that time)
  • Driver orientation. Great to drive.
  • All priced at 8 lacs or lower.
  • As cheap to maintain as any other car.
  • Great after-market support for modifications.

I remember the wars on our previous forums (Autocar and Formula India). It was City vs Lancer vs Baleno everywhere. Forget only the forums, it was impossible to have a late night drive in Mumbai without seeing some souped up examples already racing. Or wanting to race with you.

ALAS......what new driver-oriented launch have we seen in the last 3 - 4 years? Sure theres the Skoda RS' and the Honda Civics. But they are between 13 - 16 lac rupees to buy. Horsepower for sub-9 lac cars has not gone up either. We are still stuck at 100BHP. The only good news for enthusiasts has been the Balenos repositioning at 6.xx lacs. And the Ford Fiesta 1.6.

Tell me one car under 10 lacs that as much fun to drive as my OHC Vtec.

Last edited by GTO : 13th October 2006 at 13:38.
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Old 13th October 2006, 13:41   #2
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the only difference is that nowadays, 100 BHP is not considered searing hot anymore since bread and butter family cars like the accent, verna, aveo et al have 100bhp engines.

So the game has moved on a bit and now, when one talk of performance cars, it is with reference to 120 BHP+ cars like the corolla, civic etc, or the new crop of diesels-verna, octavia (OK, not so new!) elantra etc.

However, what is needed is a good 120-130 BHP sporty car <8L in the market. The SRV was a prime contender, but alas, that is a wasted opportunity by GM.
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Old 13th October 2006, 13:48   #3
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What a change a few years make to the automotive scene. There was nothing that would make a statement apart from an OHC or a Lancer at that time. The Baleno wasnt in the equation that time since it was insanely priced though at 9 lakhs.

The only car I feel under 10 lakhs which is available brand new is the Baleno. Its low pricing gives a good scope to spend on mods. Its a great car if you can live with the looks. The Fiesta has a great engine but i would still stick to the Japansese all aluminum unit.

Coming to your Vtec, I dont have one but 2 weeks of driving an OHC 1.5 even though AT has made me fallen in love with it. It's my opinion but I still feel it has much more character and class then a Corolla or an Optra. Just my 50 paise.

I think the OHC bug has bitten me big time . Imagine if it was RWD...

So in the end I really dont see any driver oriented cars this side of 10 lakhs. The NHC went down on power and the NHC Vtec is nowhere as exciting to drive as the old one. And Honda arent doing anything because its selling. i wonder what they would have done otherwise. The Cedia hasnt set the sales charts on fire either as the Lancer did though I've heard its a good car

Last edited by Dippy : 13th October 2006 at 14:05.
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Old 13th October 2006, 13:52   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO
Tell me one car under 10 lacs that as much fun to drive as my OHC Vtec.
Unfortunately GTO there are none and I share your anguish regarding this. Honda dealt us a major disappointment with the NHC with its 77-hp engine, the Lancer has been too long in the tooth and the Cedia has failed to capture the market's imagination. The new VTEC has also not been up to the mark not only engine wise but also since it simply does not have the seat of the pants feel of the old car. It's like driving a instrument via remote simply not fun enough.

Rest of the cars under 10L like the Corolla, Optra, Aveo etc. are simply not enough fun to drive like the VTEC. Somehow the market has changed to launching more refined cars which distance the driver/passenger from the feel of the car, thereby losing the character which is so important for us enthusiasts. Another factor contributing to this is the Indian consumers obsession with FE, since most companies have identified this trait if our market everyone is looking to detune/de-stress their engine in favour of more Fuel Efficiency thereby reducing the power of the engines. Even the RS though powerful does not have the driving pleasure which is there in cars like the VTEC/Ikon 1.6.

I guess we'll have to shell out more to buy the slightly better Civics & RS's till we have other options, which are not likely in the near future.

I'm looking to change my car but have found no worthy replacement within the 10L bracket & so will have to decide between the Civic & the Accord both of which I have driven extensively. But the thought of losing the raw character & feel of my VTEC is still a disturbing thought!

Last edited by iraghava : 13th October 2006 at 13:55.
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Old 13th October 2006, 13:55   #5
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I guess now the focus is more on comfort, VFM etc., in this segment but there are still a few cars with loads of power
Example :
1. Hyundai elantra petrol : 8L, 127hp, with TCS, EBD handling is not too bad too.
2. Fiesta 1.6 : Would be in league of ikon
3. Baleno(Of the old clan)

With Verna coming in, it could be that the next wave is of performance diesels?

It will be difficult to beat the standards set by OHC vtec, which was a legend in itself.
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Old 13th October 2006, 14:02   #6
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I have a OHC Vtec, just love the car, but iam not a racing guy... Its a VFM, sorry to say that it just got a very passive owner like me.. What puts me off is the lack of safety on our roads .. i dont like to race anywhere so unsafe...regrets
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Old 13th October 2006, 14:04   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979
I guess now the focus is more on comfort, VFM etc., in this segment.
Exactly, the vendors have realised that in the Indian market, putting practicality ahead of enthusiasm, gives them a lot more revenue and profit.

Case in point : NHC vs OHC - no comparison when it comes to driving pleasure, but just see the sales figures.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979
It will be difficult to beat the standards set by OHC vtec, which was a legend in itself.
Yes, that and the fact that very few people like us are actually interested in performance/driving pleasure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO
Tell me one car under 10 lacs that as much fun to drive as my OHC Vtec.
Let me give you three
- Elantra - 8L, 0-100 : 10.xx, great handling skills, but does not feel like 127 horses
- Cedia - 9-10L, 0-100 : 10.xx, superb handling, comfy too
- Corolla - 9L, 0-100: 9.0, good handling, can take on RS with ease.

Though I agree that all the above are actually cut-down versions of a higher class.

Also, FTD is a matter of individual perception as well. Unlike iraghava, I find the NHC VTEC to be as competent as the older VTEC; though the 'feel'/perception of being a hot-rod machine is not there, the refinement can be welcome change.

Last edited by Dippy : 5th May 2010 at 17:19. Reason: Back to back posts.
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Old 13th October 2006, 14:27   #8
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Yup, I agree with U guys. Currently own a Baleno. Will be changing it next year. But cars like the Civic and the Rs are above my budget and the Fiesta, although good, is a wee bit small. Maybe I'll end up buying a sensible Big car like the scorpio/ Innova for self and a Hot hatch "for the wife"... she won't be getting much driving on that one.
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Old 13th October 2006, 15:03   #9
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Quote:
Let me give you three
- Elantra - 8L, 0-100 : 10.xx, great handling skills, but does not feel like 127 horses
- Cedia - 9-10L, 0-100 : 10.xx, superb handling, comfy too
- Corolla - 9L, 0-100: 9.0, good handling, can take on RS with ease.
The Elantra Petrol is hardly a drivers car. The Corolla does NOT handle well and its suspension is one major concern with all owners. The Cedias well....its okay. I can safely presume that I am part of a majority who would not find any of these options as satisfying to drive as an OHC Vtec.

Quote:
Unlike iraghava, I find the NHC VTEC to be as competent as the older VTEC;
Good to hear that you like the NHC Vtec. I dont. Atleast not compared to the OHC Vtec. Again, a majority of petrol heads who have driven both share this opinion with me.
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Old 13th October 2006, 16:48   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979
I guess now the focus is more on comfort, VFM etc.,
Add FE in the list. Some of the existing cars could do wonders if there was no FE constraint as such.
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Old 13th October 2006, 16:52   #11
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What about the Optra SRV It was supposed to be a sporty car
On a serious note does any one know how is the performance of this car, I believe it has 100 horses & is under 10L & is supposed to be a driver's car
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Old 13th October 2006, 17:27   #12
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Hopefully someone will add the Peterified Verna to this list...
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Old 13th October 2006, 17:27   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Technocrat
What about the Optra SRV It was supposed to be a sporty car
On a serious note does any one know how is the performance of this car, I believe it has 100 horses & is under 10L & is supposed to be a driver's car
I had a TD of Chevy SRV. It has stunning rear but bland front. Its has air-bags but no ABS. Only black interiors, and no beige. Anyway, I couldn't take it to the highway but in city I found pickup a little late (compared to Accent GLE). Could be due to VGIS (Variable Geometry Induction System) engine.
My ideal, pratical car would be Chevy SRV with Verna CRDi engine.
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Old 13th October 2006, 17:40   #14
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Quote:
Hopefully someone will add the Peterified Verna to this list...
Thats a diesel. And even if its fast...just simply doesnt compare to high-revving petrols. However, it would certainly be a strong contender if I was looking for an 8 lac sedan.

Quote:
What about the Optra SRV It was supposed to be a sporty car
Its got a lazy engine, an average gearshift and just about average handling / braking. On the performance front, a Baleno will leave it for dead.

Quote:
I guess now the focus is more on comfort, VFM etc.,
Yes, but to go further than just comfort and VFM....the focus of Indian buyers really is on practicality. Look at the sales figures of the NHC, Innova, Indigo and so on.

Last edited by GTO : 13th October 2006 at 17:43.
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Old 13th October 2006, 17:45   #15
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Reviews of the SRV are saying that the transmission is really notchy and that detracts from the overall experience....

BSMotoring did a test of Palio 1.6, Swift and SRV and the Palio won easily. and the "sporty" SRV just abt managed to finish ahead of the much cheaper Swift
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