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Old 31st January 2011, 00:29   #16
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

The so called "Expert Reviews" are always compromised.
In this nation of Radia and Barkha, its impossible to believe in what these so called "Expert Reviews" state.

Its what the owners (who have no stake whatsoever in the parent company of the product) say which makes a difference to me.

An that's what makes Team-BHP what it is. Honest ownership reports.

To people who want to believe in so called "Expert Reviews", please do so. Its after all your money. Some of which will flow back to these "Expert Reviews".
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Old 31st January 2011, 00:53   #17
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
I basically see auto industry-sponsored magazines & websites as being in a "conflict of interest" situation. You say you are serving the interest of your readers, but it's the auto industry paying your bills. If you had to choose between pleasing one of them, who would you? Subscription income & newstand sales are a miniscule part of their revenue model, compared to automotive industry sponsorships.
Auto magazines are in the end a business. It amazing how this one statement in the end defines how reviews are judged, cars are praised or bashed, awards are given and even long term reviews are written.

I have seen these reviews reduced to nothing but lies on toilet paper in recent years! they are so bad and biased now, that the data they reveal in the review has no bearing on the english that is used! .. Man the tricks they use! Some examples:

1. Bare bones models of some brands are compared with fully loaded models of other brands. (then these bare bone cars are either bashed for being too utilatatrian or underpowered, or if the bias is on the reverse - the expensive car is bashed for being low on VFM)

2. Some cars are called the "more driveable one" while the competitor has better "in-gear" acceleration figures!

3. there is a different of nearly 1.5-2 Kmpl in mileage, but the magazine thinks that its acceptable difference for a diesel and no one cares!
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Old 31st January 2011, 06:58   #18
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

I agree 100%. Except for few ownership threads, most in here are unbiased. Else, we would never have known the niggles or issues of all the vehicles.

Its only here you see owners shouting out about the rattles in their swift, niggles in the safari, quality issue of Tata, poor service of fiat, expensive [or on par cost with other brands] service of Maruti etc etc.

Knowing how media works in India, I am a firm believer that an auto magazine expert irrespective of how honest he is, will still have a biased view. May be he can put a polished statement, which only if we read in-between the lines, will highlight the cons. Never a straight forward one.

We too have experts review in here. But the difference is we are not "promoting" any brands. Anyone who read the recent Thar review will accept my above statement.

And I appreciate the Mods for keeping this site unbiased. Starting an unbiased site is not tough. But maintaining it as such without any compromise even after its improved visibility and fame is something very difficult. Kudos.
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Old 31st January 2011, 10:02   #19
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Nice observations, nice thread.

For me opinions of Owners matter a lot, and yet one needs to weigh the views with the apparent knowledge and minor bias of the owner. These are at times very obvious from the posts and not hard to spot.

A publication has to pay the price of giving -ve reviews by being left out for advts. so they can't go too hard on a car they don't like. That said a good automobile reviewer can give a proper analysis (GTO you, Rehaan and many others are in that segment for me and your views are something that I would suggest a car buyer should read first.). The problem is that many of the automobile journos get a bit overconfident and a bit c..ky over time and do not study the vehicles properly. TV reviewers on some of the channels take the cake interms of the kind of review they do(I mean it sarcastically).

I also feel that one needs to actually drive varied types of cars over 15-25 odd years (as a owner not driver) over atleast 200K kms to really be able to comment on a car properly, a first time owner may feel that xyz car he/she has bought is the best deal (most refined etc.) in the world but not having actually used / lived with a varied set of cars negates the capability to view the car objectively.

Then there are loyalists of all bands, Maruti, TATA, Hyundai, Merc, Honda, Toyota... also called fan boys and to them nothing that their favourite brand does can be wrong and it is essential to spot a fan boy critic / reviewer among the more neutral ones.

At Team BHP the advantage one gets is that all kinds of car users, drivers, back seat drivers give their review an a combination of these helps in reaching a conclusion about a vehicle.

Overall it is better to take an owners opinion combined with a formal reviewers one but keep the compulsions and abilities of both in mind while considering their views.

Car buying can be a very complex process for some and a very simple one for others, many around me buy a car just because I recommed it to them in person, and then there are others who would buy just the opposite of what I suggest. . I guess this is just like marriage and love - there is a special someone (car) for everyone out there in this world we just need to find it. - Dil to Pagal Hai - Concept

Last edited by ACM : 31st January 2011 at 10:04.
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Old 31st January 2011, 14:55   #20
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Thanks for the compliments, GTO.

When you look at it from the POV of the magazines, it is essential for them to not be too hard on the cars reviewed, because their livelihood depends on it. They are so ad-dependent that of late, some mags are sold at a token retail price because every other A3 page is a full-page ad. You all know which one I mean.

I was also shocked to see that the new Fabia was rated so highly by several mags, when the service hasn't improved. Even if you're paying a lot less to buy the car, you still have to go to the same pirates for service, right? Yet, there was no mention of any of this on the mags, and it didn't figure into the ratings at all. At the very least, they could quote some industry accepted stats (JD Power surveys for instance) and factor that in while calculating the overall mark.

Another practice I abhor is that only the top end variants are compared. For instance, the Swift/Dzire comes with 185/70 section tyres only on the top end variants. The lower end variants make do with 165/80. This definitely has an impact on the handling and braking figures. In effect, the buyer has no idea how good the lower end variants are from the ratings given by the mags. There is also no real data about how the missing equipment affects the comfort rating of the car.

On a more superficial level, this even affects the styling points. The base version of the Polo looks bare without the metal accents on the dashboard, the base Indica looks awful with tiny 13" wheels and the base Figo isn't as good looking without the chrome bits and plain steel wheels. Heck, even the base version of Swift looks insipid, despite the awesome body styling. And styling does matter, otherwise there wouldn't be such a huge market for accessories.

Most importantly, they do not use their medium to educate people on the importance of safety features. They don't compare the braking distances of variants with the better tyres and ABS to the base models. People assume that the braking figures are comparable to the top end variant, but it simply isn't true. The ABS equipped variants usually come with bigger brakes and boosters, because there is no chance of locking up.

I agree that a lot of owners are more appreciative of their cars at least at the beginning, myself probably being one of them. But then, it doesn't really matter to them anymore because they are not going to change cars anytime soon. Until this honeymoon stage is over, owners' experiences have to be taken with a bit of salt. But when it comes to long-term ownership reports, nothing beats owner reports.

Last edited by vivekgk : 31st January 2011 at 15:06.
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Old 31st January 2011, 15:51   #21
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Ownership reports are primarily simply the running cost of the car reports along with the service experience and fuel consumption. The drivability of the vehicle simply takes the back seat in the everyday bumper to bumper traffic. More of real world issues

Expert reviews would be ideal world scnario kind of feedback and influnced by the potiential business opportunity as well.

Potiential buyers either do loads of research or just follow the herd or pick up the latest potiential hot launch in the market, like me.
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Old 31st January 2011, 16:44   #22
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Audience Traffic and Demographics Information reports on what we've known all along; an honest, straight-forward ownership review is infinitely more trustworthy, and representative of the car, than "expert" reviews.

A study of over 5000+ Indian online users reveals this (amongst other things):

Who knows a car better than one who lives with it? Who can report on a car better than he, whose bills are NOT paid by automotive advertisements? Where do you find the best database of ownership reports on Indian cars .

I trust a knowledgeable enthusiast and / or car owner more than any journalist. Thanks to all those of you who have contributed with ownership threads on your cars, especially the ones that are frequently updated with service, maintenance and repair information.
I agree, partially though. I would like,

a.) Car Reviews (performance, build, interior et al) by an Expert - A new owner of a car is bound to be biased towards his new car is likely to overlook. A professional reviewer is (atleast supposed to be) on the other hand neutral and can list out the positives and negatives of the car without any bias.

b.) Customer Service Experience by a Owner - The owner of the car is probably the best person to talk about how the service center treats him.
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Old 31st January 2011, 17:25   #23
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

I think this is quite a true reflection of how most car owners think.

In a country like India, there is a considerable no. of people buying their 1st car so they want to get the hard money->1st car translation correct. There are many who graduate from a hatch to a sedan. VFM is a huge factor in the Indian psyche.

Most experts would be reviewing a range of cars right from a 1 lakh Nano to a 12 lakh Corolla to a high-end Audi/Merc/BMW. So while some features may be very common in some models they review, they might not be available in the entry level cars.

It would take a reviewer with a very neutral perspective to ensure the right message is sent across.

Eg. Someone used to reviewing ~10 lakhs + cars and not exactly unbiased would find the absence of Power Steering/ABS in most models of Toyota Etios glaring and will strip the car down. Although the motive of the car pricing itself is to make it affordable, the expert would approach in a way that a buyer would wonder if the Etios is a bad deal.

In the case of an Ownership report however, you hear the perspective of a fellow buyer; someone who has put most of his savings into a car he is likely to keep for some time. An owner would most certainly call a spade a spade. Gloat about the good things and curse the bad.

Also, an Expert would get the car for a test drive on 1 day. An owner would be driving it for some time before posting a review. So, the owner is more likely to know the entire picture : how effective the a/c is with 1/2/4 people, the boot space during a trip, safety features, maintenance cost, how the dealers/manufacturers treat etc.

I feel the owner would get a more "practical" feel of the car.

This said, I would like to have a look at an expert review too because this is where the technical aspects and other features that an ordinary owner would not really understand. Also, at times, comparison helps to make a better choice.
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Old 31st January 2011, 21:10   #24
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Some of the Car Reviews being aired on Business channels - BBG, NDTV Profit, CNBC are clearly influenced by manufactuers. Not just car reviews, I happened to catch a "Gadget" episode where the gadgets of the week featured two models of the same product!

If one was to put the manufacturers hat, its' clear that the car review show is looked upon as part of the marketing strategy, and every effort (ethical/unethical) will be made to get it right, and there's nothing wrong as long as its' ethical. Lobbying for getting a particular launch reviewed in time and more so on favourable terms is an assignment like any other within the marketing team.

Now, as regards the influence factor, I'd be surprised if anyone really decides on their cars based on reviews. To me 90% of the decision is done during the test drive. Period.

Yes, the reviews both experts' and owners' will surely help me in lining up the test-drives, and skipping a few that are absolutely no-no.
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Old 31st January 2011, 21:43   #25
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

I think its a matter of personal choice. I would try to read both, It gives me more perspective. As much as ownership reports vary, expert reviews can be drastically different (and on the same item). So keeping all of the reviews and ownership reports as just a guideline would be the best approach, at least for me. After that it just moves to what I feel about the car and what I like and dislike.
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Old 31st January 2011, 22:10   #26
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

The beauty of our reviews are that they are long term..sometimes all the way to 1 lakh kms. A magazine drives the car when its brand new and that is the end of it. For example, not one has reported the rattles problem of the Swifts initial batch.

The only advantage they have is the multi car shootouts. The pros and cons show up more clearly when you drive cars back to back.
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Old 1st February 2011, 12:28   #27
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Ownership reviews always will have greater value to a prospective buyer, user than any magazine review can.

The opinions of people who have put their money where their mouth is, will always supercede any magazine review because the said opinions are those of people with their skins directly in the game, by virtue of having bought and owned the vehicle in question.
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Old 1st February 2011, 16:48   #28
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

It is true that Ownership reviews carry more weight. That is justified. Afterall, a prospective buyer is a layman like the one who writes ownership report and not an expert.
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Old 1st February 2011, 17:35   #29
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

What if its a newly launched car . In that case what would one bank on ?
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Old 1st February 2011, 21:55   #30
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Originally Posted by karty_83 View Post
What if its a newly launched car . In that case what would one bank on ?
Good question.

Take the case of the overwhelming response to the Toyota Etios launched recently.

I suppose in this case the long term ownership reviews of the Toyota brand of vehicles in general (read reliability) has helped generate these enormous advance bookings for Toyota, even before the cars hit the roads.
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