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Old 1st March 2018, 00:05   #1
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Default Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

Ever looked at a Maruti Alto or a Nissan Sunny, and wondered how boring they would be to drive?

Ever wondered as to why that wealthy neighbour, who owns a German Saloon north of 30 lakhs has a 5 lac hatchback in his garage?

Yep, it is beaters I am going to talk about today. A bunch of underrated, pocket friendly cars which might not seem to be too desirable at first glance, but actually signify a lot more underneath all of that utility.

Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one-nissan-sunny-review-3.jpg
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Old 1st March 2018, 00:30   #2
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Default re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

What is a Beater car?

This question has been asked many a times and oft. What exactly is a beater car? Well, there can be several interpretations to the same word, so I decided to quote from the Concise Dictionary itself:

an old or dilapidated vehicle

This is the "North American" meaning of the word "beater". Mind you, having a beater car is not something to be ashamed of. It's a common myth that prevails among people. Many think that beaters are cars bought purely using the head, but I can point out several examples which offer excellent agility and can even put a modern day car to shame when it comes to "the fun to drive feeling".

Additionally, a beater can be bought brand new as well. Although there are several examples in the second hand markets, certain brand new buys can also turn out to be excellent investments as beater cars.

Advantages of owning a beater car


Came across this video on Facebook. Check it out if you are too lazy to read what's written below:


They are cheap to buy

Quite obviously, beaters are insanely cheap to buy in most if not all cases. Infact, if you are open to pre worshipped rides as well, it does give you a lot of choice. From the Fun to Drive Maruti Swift, to the chauffeur driven Sunny.

Additionally, you also get depreciation benefits while buying pre worshipped rides. A 3-4 year old Punto or Swift means that the owner has already taken the initial hit.

Certain cars do depreciate like a rock many times, mostly owing to poor marketing, poor brand image, bankrupt companies (GM) and the product itself. An example has to be the Fiat Punto. Arguably the most Fun to drive hatch in its segment:
Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one-1200pxfiat_grande_punto_20090906_front.jpg


They are surprisingly cheap to maintain

It's a given with most beaters. Choose wisely and choose a car which has good A.S.S and you are bound to be surprised as to how cheap a beater is to maintain.

No warranty? Even better. Hand it over to a trustworthy FNG and you can cut down on the expenses even further. Practicality is a part and parcel across several fields in a beater car (maintenance, space etc.).

Low service bills with most beaters are a given. Choose wisely and you surely won't regret buying one:
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Reliability is a part and parcel of a beater car


Simple mechanicals = lesser troubles

Its an extremely simple formula but still holds a lot of prominence in today's world, especially when complexity is increasing across cars. Most beater cars are very simple, both mechanically and electronically. My Kwid doesn't even have an electronic headlamp leveller for instance.

Beater cars are truly a "fill it shut it and forget it" proposition. Your German luxo barge might betray you after 5 years with eye watering bills, but a beater will keep chugging along just fine.

Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one-renaultkwid11.jpg


They act as a guardian to your priced possession


This is one of the most important points. It doesn't matter if you love your beater or not, but it surely does its part in protecting that ' true love' of yours. As an example, my Volkswagen Jetta's annual running has drastically reduced in the past 6 months since the Kwid entered my garage.

The Jetta has only done about 3K km on the odo in the last 6-7 months. This figure used to be in the neighbourhood of around 9-10K km before. Even worse, a large part of it used to be on city roads littered with ruts and potholes along with stop and go traffic. Frequent short trips were also common. This is where I think a beater truly serves its purpose.

If I may add, the Kwid is a lot more abuse friendly than the Jetta as well. High profile tyres with steel rims, archaic suspension setup, lack of electrically adjustable ORVMs and the likes mean that I won't have to suffer heart break incase a careless biker swipes the mirrors. Additionally, even if I have to shell out cash, I won't get an eye watering bill either. A win-win situation.

City trips, bad roads, short trips, taking the wife out for shopping, congested roads = Beater car

Highways, Long road trips and well paved roads = Your true love

Simple suspension setup. No multilink frills or electronic wizardry. Won't have you worried on the $$$ aspect either:
Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one-renaultkwid10.jpg


Easier to drive


Another given with most beaters is that they are very easy to drive. The low end torque of a Sunny can put larger turbo diesels to shame just as an example. Most of these cars make for excellent learner's cars as well.

Additionally, just as I mentioned before, you won't really regret if you end up with a scar on your bumper or a broken mirror.

Lesser body coloured panels = lesser chances of damage in a rear shunt. Most beaters are frugally engineered with costs in mind. While they won't have the attention to detail you want them to, utility and cost effectiveness is surely guaranteed:
Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one-renaultkwid30.jpg


Fun to drive beater? Why not!


Yep. There is a class of beater cars which is immense fun to drive as well. Simply put, you can enjoy low service costs, bargain basement buying prices, reliability and driving pleasure all with the same car.

The Honda Brio and the good ol' City I-Vtec are other examples.

Two golden examples have to be the Fiat Punto and the Maruti swift 1.2 K-Series. Even an Alto K10 with sticky tyres can plaster a smile on your face with its free revving petrol and go kart like handling:
Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one-marutiswift18.jpg

A Honda Civic isn't a bad choice either. Just that you will have to shell out a small premium above other beaters when it comes to upkeep and maintenance. One of the safest and most FTD beaters IMHO:
Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one-20120715_084504.jpg


Chauffeur driven beater, anyone?

Imagine this situation, you have one of the big three or even one of the body on frames north of the 30 lakh mark. You don't want to compromise on space at all but still want it to be a practical, frugal and cheap to maintain ride with peace of mind of course. Lo and behold, the beater sedans!

A class of cars below the 12 lakh mark (new) which have a large footprint, are immensely practical and above all, promise reliability and low maintenance costs. Two examples would be the Maruti Suzuki Ciaz and the Nissan Sunny. The Ciaz has acres of legroom, a fairly comfy rear seat and most importantly is backed by Maruti's strong after sales network across the country. The only fly in the ointment might be the national engine which has turbo lag within the city and isn't really a road burner on the highway either.

In that case, the Sunny would make good sense as well. The 1.5 Dci might be properly old school but it promises excellent low end punch and bulletproof reliability (Logan Taxi drivers have clocked >2,00,000 Km). Additionally, the rear seat is also fairly comfortable, but it is the legroom that takes the cake. The loooong wheelbase, and the soft suspension setup ensure that rear seat passengers stay comfortable. The only downside of the soft suspension is high speed driving dynamics. Spongy brakes don't do much to inspire confidence either. Nissan's after sales is a huge question mark as well...

The Nissan Sunny makes more sense in the pre worshipped market than it does new IMHO. Want to buy brand new, how about a Ciaz Delta or even an Amaze or Dzire for that matter?
Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one-maxresdefault.jpg


"Oonchi is the new Lambi


Don't fret. Yet again, I do have a list of beaters for you. The first one that comes to mind immediately has to be the Toyota Innova. Honest mechanicals, minimal electronics, bulletproof reliability backed by Toyota's excellent after sales and low service costs as well.

What if you don't mind plonking a bit more moolah? Well then, a Fortuner might just fit the bill as well. Carries the same traits as the Innova, but adds a Full time 4WD (last generation) along with a few more goodies.

Additionally, both these cars don't depreciate much either. Another choice in this segment could be the Renault Lodgy. You can buy one new as well, and the 1.5 DCi as mentioned, will outlast you. A renault Duster isn't a bad choice either. Just go for a later batch of cars, as the earlier 110hp ones were plagued with injector issues. Additionally, the 85Hp variants might have excellent drivability, but the 110Hp variants do suffer from turbo lag. I would pick the former for intra city commutes. The price slash for the Duster has come in good time as well.

The Duster starts at an even lower price now. A rugged monocoque and one of the rarer ones to offer 4WD in its segment:
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They call it "The national highway car" of India. Taxi owners swear by it. I don't think I need to say more:
Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one-car271.jpg

Last edited by vishy76 : 1st March 2018 at 20:03.
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Old 1st March 2018, 20:00   #3
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Default re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

Conclusion


Beaters might not have the attention to detail or the finesse that you would expect from a car as an enthusiast. Cost cutting, and rough edges are a given with most of the cars I have listed down. However, there is an obvious upside to it as well.

Whether you buy pre worshipped or brand new, beaters make a compelling case for themselves. Here are some of the traits I think a Beater ought to possess:
  • Cheap to buy and insure
  • Cheap to maintain as well
  • Should be backed by strong A.S.S and good spare availability
  • Simple and robust mechanicals
  • Should be frugal as well

Thanks for reading through and do not forget to add any additional points that you deem necessary..

Regards,
Vishy

Last edited by GTO : 3rd March 2018 at 09:00. Reason: typo
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Old 2nd March 2018, 10:20   #4
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Default Re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Indian Car Scene. Thanks for sharing!

Brilliant thread - rating 5 stars. You've written on a topic that we've been practicing since like forever. We have always had a beater car in the house. Right now the Sunny (thanks for using it as the opening pic ), and prior to that, the Tata Indigo, Maruti Esteem & Padmini 137D.

The importance of a beater = All the rough use on one car. This helps to maintain & preserve the superior cars of the house. For instance, it's the Sunny that is given to temporary chauffeurs, friends needing to borrow a car, airport & market runs, driving to bad areas, places with poor parking, transporting cargo (like my Mom's stairclimber) etc. And it doesn't have to be that the beater is the oldest car. In my best friend's house, the Jetta is the oldest, but the newer Bolt & Grand i10 are used as beaters.

Very important that a tough, reliable & durable car is selected as the beater simply because of the abuse it'll go through. The Sunny & Esteem have been / were super reliable despite all the rough usage; however, the Indigo practically collapsed in its 4th year of ownership. I know families that own an S-Class, yet have an Innova as a beater.

Very practical thread. Again, thank you for sharing .

Last edited by GTO : 2nd March 2018 at 10:24.
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Old 2nd March 2018, 10:32   #5
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Default Re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

You have put it down very nicely . Valid points too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vishy76 View Post
  • Cheap to buy and insure
  • Cheap to maintain as well
  • Should be backed by strong A.S.S and good spare availability
  • Simple and robust mechanicals
  • Should be frugal as well
True. There should be at least one car like this in every garage. My Grand I10 is one such car. It is very good to drive in city and decent on highways.
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Old 2nd March 2018, 10:35   #6
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Default Re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

I am trying to get a beater car for myself as well, reason, daughter's school and father's daily run to courts [he is an advocate]. I will have to buy a tall car though, be it WagonR or maybe Ignis.

Scorpio is too large and just doesn't feel right to drive everywhere and performs its best when driven for some distance.

And post getting a beater, I can plan for a better SUV & a bigger bike
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Old 2nd March 2018, 10:43   #7
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Default Re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

Nice thread. Thanks for sharing. The thought of getting a beater car keeps popping in my mind to protect my Vento TSI and its potentially notorious DSG. Recently almost bought a Nano. But thinking practically, I don't have enough running and hence maintaining 2 cars would be an overkill. Still, the thought never goes away.

Another perfect example of a beater is the Etios. Have a 120K run petrol Etios in the immediate family. The temptation to change it keeps popping up, but considering it is no hassles car, spacious, mostly driver driven, I keep recommending to hold on to it as the beater car in the famlily.
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Old 2nd March 2018, 10:54   #8
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Default Re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
But thinking practically, I don't have enough running and hence maintaining 2 cars would be an overkill. Still, the thought never goes away.
In that case, use a 3rd-party's car as a beater = Uber & Ola . 'Outsource' a car for all the rough use.
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Old 2nd March 2018, 11:03   #9
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Default Re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

Nice thread!

I think beater cars work best if, in general, car usage in the family is very high. That is, people take the car out for going everywhere. The Ola/Uber option in bigger cities is most likely the biggest competitor to the beater car.
Added to that, if the household has more than just mummy-papa-baby, a beater car makes eminent sense.

In a city like Bangalore, a beater bike/scooter might be more convenient than a beater car. We have one in our household. The scooter is used to go anywhere and everywhere that we don't want to take the car.
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Old 2nd March 2018, 11:06   #10
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Default Re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

Great thread. I never realised but my beater car is tata nano from 2009. I use it for short runs, grocery shopping and doggy rides. Ofcourse I just realised I have a vehicle for every purpose like highway runs, office,functions and performance .What might my father be thinkin all these years

Last edited by Vulken Auto : 2nd March 2018 at 11:09.
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Old 2nd March 2018, 11:07   #11
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Default Re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

Guess quite a few in the forum seem to have soft corner for such workhorses.

Though single car families shun few of these cars probably because of opinion polls within families. After being in too many Ubers/Olas, you tend to develop soft corner for such practical beasts of burden. The comfort the Etios or an Indigo gives is just unbeatable in any budget car. The massive boot is just an added plus.

From the original workhorse the Peugeot 309, we got a the Logan, Sunny and Etios in the 21st century.

Would i enjoy the benefits of of the peace of mind and no nonsense onwership experience.
But would i make stupid decision to invest in a car which is all flash over such wonderful cars. Probably!

Most of the car buying public also does seem to echo similar views. Hence the title of unsung heroes does seem apt for these cars. Thanks for sharing such an article. Had thought of penning my thoughts about these for a while.
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Old 2nd March 2018, 11:10   #12
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Default Re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

Quote:
Originally Posted by vishy76 View Post
What is a Beater car
Excellent Thread! I have been using the Ignis AMT as a Beater car. Although it was not really dirt cheap and was actually a new car - its that small car which can zip thru traffic and fits the bill of a beater car perfectly.

An additional point I wanted to add to the discussion was to consider an automatic for a Beater car. This is working out very well in my case, my wife loves it and has started to drive with confidence.

For City driving, I get the convenience of an automatic with the Ignis and when I take my Honda City out on the highway, I can enjoy the manual transmission out on the high way and don't have to worry about those overtakes...
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Old 2nd March 2018, 11:24   #13
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Default Re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

Completely agree with the concept. I have a beater bike due to parking issues.

Also in the opening thread, I dont think a Fortuner can qualify as a beater car. Its expensive, uncomfortable, difficult to park and not omni friendly due to the height.
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Old 2nd March 2018, 11:43   #14
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Default Re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Indian Car Scene. Thanks for sharing!

Brilliant thread - rating 5 stars. You've written on a topic that we've been practicing since like forever. We have always had a beater car in the house. Right now the Sunny (thanks for using it as the opening pic ), and prior to that, the Tata Indigo, Maruti Esteem & Padmini 137D.

The importance of a beater = All the rough use on one car. This helps to maintain & preserve the superior cars of the house. For instance, it's the Sunny that is given to temporary chauffeurs, friends needing to borrow a car, airport & market runs, driving to bad areas, places with poor parking, transporting cargo (like my Mom's stairclimber) etc. And it doesn't have to be that the beater is the oldest car. In my best friend's house, the Jetta is the oldest, but the newer Bolt & Grand i10 are used as beaters.

Very important that a tough, reliable & durable car is selected as the beater simply because of the abuse it'll go through. The Sunny & Esteem have been / were super reliable despite all the rough usage; however, the Indigo practically collapsed in its 4th year of ownership. I know families that own an S-Class, yet have an Innova as a beater.

Very practical thread. Again, thank you for sharing .
Your thread on the Sunny inspired me to create this one. I was a bit surprised as to how a discussion on this topic hadn't taken place on the forum before. Anyways, glad that it is up now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.Naren View Post
You have put it down very nicely . Valid points too.

True. There should be at least one car like this in every garage. My Grand I10 is one such car. It is very good to drive in city and decent on highways.
And you seem to have remapped that one as well.

The i10 is a great city commuter. Light steering, soft suspension and compact dimensions. Great for the highways too with its refinement at higher engine speeds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheel View Post
I am trying to get a beater car for myself as well, reason, daughter's school and father's daily run to courts [he is an advocate]. I will have to buy a tall car though, be it WagonR or maybe Ignis.

Scorpio is too large and just doesn't feel right to drive everywhere and performs its best when driven for some distance.

And post getting a beater, I can plan for a better SUV & a bigger bike
A bigger family almost always warrants a beater car. Buy an automatic preferably. If your dad wants to get behind the wheel sometime, it will surely be convenient for him too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rajeevraj View Post
Nice thread. Thanks for sharing. The thought of getting a beater car keeps popping in my mind to protect my Vento TSI and its potentially notorious DSG. Recently almost bought a Nano. But thinking practically, I don't have enough running and hence maintaining 2 cars would be an overkill. Still, the thought never goes away.

Another perfect example of a beater is the Etios. Have a 120K run petrol Etios in the immediate family. The temptation to change it keeps popping up, but considering it is no hassles car, spacious, mostly driver driven, I keep recommending to hold on to it as the beater car in the famlily.
Trust me. Most Toyotas are born beaters. Superior quality parts, simple mechanicals and great after sales go a long way in making sure a car outlives you. I am a bit surprised that you haven't bought a beater to be honest. The DSG hates traffic as far as I reckon.

I suggest you go for a Grand i10 Auto (if you don't want to go the Uber/Ola way). Conventional AMTs won't cut it for you now that you have experienced a DSG.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
In that case, use a 3rd-party's car as a beater = Uber & Ola . 'Outsource' a car for all the rough use.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KiloAlpha View Post
Nice thread!

I think beater cars work best if, in general, car usage in the family is very high. That is, people take the car out for going everywhere. The Ola/Uber option in bigger cities is most likely the biggest competitor to the beater car.
Added to that, if the household has more than just mummy-papa-baby, a beater car makes eminent sense.

In a city like Bangalore, a beater bike/scooter might be more convenient than a beater car. We have one in our household. The scooter is used to go anywhere and everywhere that we don't want to take the car.
Ola and Uber have brought about a sweeping change in all fields of car transport. Makes it all the more easier for us users.

Bikes are an arguable proposition. They are excellent means of commute considering that you can filter through traffic easily, however for family errands and safety reasons, I would any day pick a beater car or an uber. Some cars mentioned by me might not be the safest ones (Kwid, Alto etc.), but they are much safer than a 2 wheeler.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vulken Auto View Post
Great thread. I never realised but my beater car is tata nano from 2009. I use it for short runs, grocery shopping and doggy rides. Ofcourse I just realised I have a vehicle for every purpose like highway runs, office,functions and performance .What might my father be thinkin all these years
Yeah. Beaters are around you, but you don't realise it. They have a major contribution in your commutes, but many people don't acknowledge them (including me). That's the reason why "unsung heroes" has been used as the title.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rohitoasis View Post
Guess quite a few in the forum seem to have soft corner for such workhorses.

Though single car families shun few of these cars probably because of opinion polls within families. After being in too many Ubers/Olas, you tend to develop soft corner for such practical beasts of burden. The comfort the Etios or an Indigo gives is just unbeatable in any budget car. The massive boot is just an added plus.

From the original workhorse the Peugeot 309, we got a the Logan, Sunny and Etios in the 21st century.

Would i enjoy the benefits of of the peace of mind and no nonsense onwership experience.
But would i make stupid decision to invest in a car which is all flash over such wonderful cars. Probably!

Most of the car buying public also does seem to echo similar views. Hence the title of unsung heroes does seem apt for these cars. Thanks for sharing such an article. Had thought of penning my thoughts about these for a while.
We all have a soft corner for them somewhere. It's only about finding it.

Who said beaters don't have flash my man? A pre worshipped Civic still gets my eyes rolling. Its also one of the safest body shells around and no A-segment hatch can compete with it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vsrivatsa View Post
Excellent Thread! I have been using the Ignis AMT as a Beater car. Although it was not really dirt cheap and was actually a new car - its that small car which can zip thru traffic and fits the bill of a beater car perfectly.

An additional point I wanted to add to the discussion was to consider an automatic for a Beater car. This is working out very well in my case, my wife loves it and has started to drive with confidence.

For City driving, I get the convenience of an automatic with the Ignis and when I take my Honda City out on the highway, I can enjoy the manual transmission out on the high way and don't have to worry about those overtakes...
Excellent suggestion. I cant stress enough on how much our Kwid has helped here. The AMT might not be a scorcher, but it makes city driving a breeze (not bliss). More importantly, it has empowered my mom to drive as well. All the more better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2000rpm View Post
Completely agree with the concept. I have a beater bike due to parking issues.

Also in the opening thread, I dont think a Fortuner can qualify as a beater car. Its expensive, uncomfortable, difficult to park and not omni friendly due to the height.
I meant the pre worshipped Fortuner. Even a first generation Fortuner can be a good beater especially if you own a European Luxury barge. Factory visits, discovering new roads and the likes. An XUV 500 will do otherwise. Lots of choices in the pre worshipped market.

Thanks for the appreciation everyone. Glad that I could contribute to the forum in a different way this time, apart from my usual reviews. Lots more to come..

Regards,
Vishy

Last edited by vishy76 : 2nd March 2018 at 11:46.
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Old 2nd March 2018, 11:52   #15
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Default Re: Beater Cars: The unsung heroes! And advantages of owning one

Very interesting thread, and one that has tremendous relevance.

This "beater car" is something I see in the garages of quite of few of my friends/acquaintances. While some prefer a hatch that can wriggle its way out of traffic, others prefer a largeish vehicle can be used for airport runs and ferrying people around.

However, one common theme I see with most is that the ones with beater cars are typically joint families (either siblings staying together or parents-kids-grandkids). In these scenarios with a large group of people with varying needs, a beater car fits perfectly. And possibly even trims the garage by a car.

But for most nuclear families, the primary/secondary car ends up being the beater car. More of a one-size-fits-all kind of a situation.

Personally, that is why I bought an EcoSport. I wanted a car that I could use as a daily driver to work and all my travels. My wife doesn't travel a lot for work so there's no need for a second car.

When she does need to, we have this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
In that case, use a 3rd-party's car as a beater
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