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Old 16th May 2011, 23:24   #1
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Default My Silver Bulldog - SX4 ZXI VVT Petrol - one year ownership review

Hello all fellow-TBhpians

I first came across Team BHP in mid 2009 when looking for some route directions from Pune to Goa. As I read thru the various valuable contributions that have built this huge treasure trove of information, TBhp became the "Oracle" for all my automotive and related queries.. I invoke the blessings of Ganesha as i begin to finally pen down my ownership experience of the SX4.

My Silver Bulldog - SX4 ZXI VVT Petrol - one year ownership review-img_3284.jpg

From my early childhood days I had a keen interest in mechanics. My Dad runs a lathe workshop and I used to help around the workshop in my college days and that helped to develop a general hands-on DIY attitude. I was thrilled to see a lot of informative posts from members which were about DIY mods and maintenance.
I would not have called myself an auto enthusiast by any measure in 2005 when we got our first car the Wagon R Lxi. Back then I had no clue about Bhp, torque,engine capacity, ride and handling, body roll etc. The main consideration was - easy to drive, decent space for passengers and luggage, decent power and decent mileage.
Infact even after I had taken formal driving lessons and earned my driving license, i was terrified to take delivery of the brand new WR and drive her home. A good friend of mine who was an experienced auto owner and had influenced my thought process to go for the WR, accompanied us and got her home. However within a few weeks we grew comfortable with each other and from then on me and my WR were inseparable. All through her 6 yrs and 47K kms till now she has been a faithful companion and a willing workhorse never let us down. We simply love her.


Fast forward to Dec 2009. We returned back from the US to India in Feb 2009 after a period of 3 yrs. While in the US we had a 1998 2.4L Honda Accord sedan and a 1996 3.3L Dodge Grand Caravan minivan. We had grown accustomed to observing safe driving habits from the 3 yrs of disciplined driving experience in the US and the "free-style" driving in India was quite a shock and it took us some time re-adjusting to the way we drive in India. Immediately safety became a priority. We felt the need for a car which had
1. Safety features Airbags, ABS-EBD
2. Space - comfortable for a family of 4 adults + 1 kid
3. Decent mileage
4. Good A/C
5. Power windows and electric ORVMS a must (thanks to a lack of these in my WR Lxi)
6. Low cost of ownership
7. Proven A*S*S
8. Low NVH levels
9. Technically advanced both in terms of engine and overall design

I was in a dilemma - should we look for replacement for the WR or should we keep the WR as Wifie's city runabout and additionally go for a sedan. Plus we were not sure if my needs called for a diesel. My daily running was about 50 km and me and missus are both vagabonds who like to take off at the slightest opportunity so adding that the overall yearly running was working out to around 15K ~ 16K kms

So the search started in both the segments -
among the hatches we looked at the Ritz, Figo, Vista, i20 and the Grande Punto
among the sedans we looked at Fiesta, SX4, Linea, ANHC and the Verna

Ritz - seemed to be a worthy successor to the WR with the tall boy frame and aerodynamic design and one of the better built cars from MSIL, however the interior comfort was average. The headroom was exceptionally high which meant more volume and more work for the AC to keep the glass house cool. Also I had started to get irritated with the WR rattles so we wanted to look beyond MSIL to see what quality others had to offer.

- Was very much impressed by the overall safety features, brilliant cabin space usage, fantastic wheelbase providing good rear legroom, spacious boot, decent factory fit audio with blue tooth. Ride quality and handling was top class and I was happy to see Ford bringing world class build quality to India with important safety features. The icing on the cake was the pricing. What more could you ask for ! However there were a few things which went against the Figo
1. Just launched - yet to be proven platform
2. Total ownership costs were not known
3. Absence of rear power windows
4. During a test drive the electric ORVM knob/switch came off in my hand which raised some doubts about Fords Quality testing
5. The non-existent bumper did not help matters and the radiator for the powerful 150 CC A/C was placed dangerously close to the front bumper.
6. With 5 people on-board, the soft suspension gives up and the rear wheel well almost touches the tyres.

Punto - Was instantly smitten by the looks and styling. Took test drive of the petrol and was not quite impressed with the pickup within the city. Ofcourse the ride and handling was in a completely different league. However the OTR for the E pack version was in the region of 7L which was close to the Fiesta. Fiat A*S*S and Cost of Ownership was also another area of concern. For example the Punto alloys were imported and cost 11K per piece as compared to MSIL where you got 4 for 17K for the Ritz.

Vista - The then Vista did not have the improved build quality that is now seen in the drivetech4 refreshed version. Fiat A*S*S and Cost of Ownership was also another area of concern. Missus ruled it out.

i20 - Space was very good, but then pricing was again in the dangerous territory so walked out.

ANHC - Among the sedans ANHC was the first preference, but when we did a feature to price comparison, the pricing was atrocious. Top end version OTR >10L, no alloys, no USB / CD audio. The sales guys take it or leave it attitude did not help either. Maintenance costs were also going to be on the higher side considering that there was just one Honda dealer in Pune. Walked out.

Linea - Brilliant car with superb driving dynamics. E pack version had lots of goodies. Also a lot has been said already about it on the forum, however when i sat on the back seat the head was touching the sloping rear glass, plus found the rear space a bit cramped. There was also a visible lack of outright performance. Fiat A*S*S and Cost of Ownership was also another area of concern. In Feb 2010 the Linea Epack and SX4 Zxi had identical OTR and the Linea MJD was about 90K more. Hindsight being 20/20 and given the recent rise in the petrol prices, i feel going for the Linea MJD would have been the right thing to do.

Fiesta - No matter how much i tried to tell the Ford sales guy to sell me the Fiesta, he was keen on selling me the Figo. Walked out

Verna - No airbags, even in the top variant.. Oops ! Sorry. (Now the 2011 all new Fluidic Verna sports 6 airbags)

Finally we come to the SX4

Initial considerations
  • The SX4 overall is a great VFM package which is MSILs hallmark.
  • Reasonable running and maintenance costs.I was quite satisfied with the service experience with my WR
  • Cabin is spacious , airy and bright
  • Safety features - Airbags, ABS - EBD
  • Good ground clearance
  • Automatic climate control
  • 16" Alloys on the ZXi variant
  • Provision of a USB option in the audio head unit. No more need to keep cutting CDs. Bluetooth missed but not a deal killer
  • WRC lineage is clearly evident in the chassis
With these points in view, finally booked the SX4 Zxi VVT ( Petrol, manual transmission ) in early Mar 2010. Delivery was made in 3 weeks on 29th Mar 2010

Accessories added -
Reverse parking sensor with IRVM display - 3K
Garware ice cool grand - 6k - all sides except the windshield
Garware Ice cool Shield - 3K - for the windshield
Floor Mats - 700
Scratch guards for the front and rear bumpers - 300
Rear spoiler - 3k

Final OTR price after all discounts was 8.10 L


Driving experience
Moving from the humble WR to the SX4 was a quantum shift. The 1.6 M16A VVT engine is very refined, powerful and efficient as well.
I just love to hear the fuel pump every morning when i turn the key before taking it all the way to ignition after which she wakes up enthusiastically and slowly settles to a sweet hum. Gently release the clutch and she starts off smoothly like a big cat on the prowl. The clutch is not exactly light but gives a good sense of the torque available. A gentle tap on the gas pedal shows her eagerness.

In the initial period of running i had experienced some coarseness while doing around 80 kph at 2K RPM. Highlighted to the SA at MASS during the first service and the tune up was done perfectly and now from 2500 RPM upwards there is a brute declaration of power. Love the note. I am a light foot and I generally allow the car the come to the speed rather than push it to it, but once in a while i like to be reminded of the horses under the hood.
The ride quality is above average and the 205 wide tyres provide excellent grip especially when then become warm. The JK Vectras have been bashed a lot on the forum and they indeed are very noisy but IMHO they are quite suited for the Indian road conditions and are able take a lot of damage on the rough roads. I am thinking of changing to Bridgestone Turanzas / Michelin Primacy LC when these are done.
The handling is not in the league of the Europeans, but I find her quite sprightly given her dimensions. The suspensions are setup on the harder side true to the WRC DNA.

[/FONT]My Silver Bulldog - SX4 ZXI VVT Petrol - one year ownership review-img_3338.jpg

The crossover lineage is quite evident in the upright driver seating position which enhances forward visibility. In the initial days found the A-pillar restricting the view when turning right, but slowly have adapted and got used to it. The big ORVMs provide a great rear view and immensely help in improving the situational awareness. I have added round blindspot mirrors which help when navigating through tight traffic, changing lanes or turning into traffic from a side lane.

My Silver Bulldog - SX4 ZXI VVT Petrol - one year ownership review-img_3279.jpg

Migrating from the WR, I was also a bit wary about how I would navigate her through rush hour traffic, however all my worries were soon put to rest as she handles very surely. My wife coolly takes her through the city without breaking a sweat . The lower gear ratios are setup with Indian city conditions in mind and the 4th and 5th gears are optimised for efficient highway cruising.

The driver seats are very supportive and comfortable. There is no fatigue when cruising on long drives. I recently did a 1600km Pune-Belgaum-Karwar-Belgaum-Pune trip and did not feel fatigue even after a 10hr long drive. The rear seat is good for 3 adults on short drives however 3 adults in the rear is not recommended for long drives. 2 adults plus a kid is fine.
The cabin could have been more plush and the NVH levels could have been lower. The build quality always reminds me that i am driving a Maruti.
There is a provision for a cabin airfilter, however the filter is missing. In the highly polluted driving conditions a cabin air filter is a must. It also helps to keep the A/C passages clean.
The ANHV now comes with a cabin air filter and ionizer which keeps you feeling fresh even on long drives.

Ahem! now comes the much awaited question - Kitna deti hai ??

So far over a running of 13,721 Kms i have got an avg of 13.3 kmpl. The best i ever got was 16.53 and lowest i got was 11.58. On the Pune - Kolhapur - Belgaum-Hubli stretch i got 15.5 with 4 adults+ 1 kid onboard with 100% AC
I have attached an excel sheet which should provides a sense of the ownership costs that one may expect to incur with the SX4.

Ownership Cost SX4.xls

Some more photos

Attached Thumbnails
My Silver Bulldog - SX4 ZXI VVT Petrol - one year ownership review-img_2949.jpg  

My Silver Bulldog - SX4 ZXI VVT Petrol - one year ownership review-img_2937.jpg  

My Silver Bulldog - SX4 ZXI VVT Petrol - one year ownership review-img_2972_dsc00434.jpg  

Last edited by FrankMartin : 8th June 2011 at 22:36. Reason: Added pics
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Old 9th June 2011, 12:01   #2
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Default Re: My Silver Bulldog - SX4 ZXI VVT Petrol - one year ownership review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Long-Term ownership review section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th June 2011, 12:15   #3
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Default Re: My Silver Bulldog - SX4 ZXI VVT Petrol - one year ownership review

Nice detailed log. Well written.

Its one VFM car in the segment and certainly looks a man among the boys.

When launched, it had the most features among all cars in the segment, but now lags behind.

Wishing you more happy miles with the SX4
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Old 9th June 2011, 22:24   #4
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Default Re: My Silver Bulldog - SX4 ZXI VVT Petrol - one year ownership review

Some additional points that i missed out earlier

What I miss:
  1. At this price point a Multi Intrument Display / Multi Function Display is a must, even B/B+ segment cars like Ford Figo have MID/MFD now.
  2. Bluetooth is sorely missed, again even B/B+ segment cars like Ford Figo have Bluetooth capability now.
  3. Armrest is an important comfort accessory for long drives, which others in the C segment have, see Honda City, Fiat Linea , VW Vento. It also creates an upmarket feel.
  1. There is no cabin air filter, even though there is a provision to fit the air filter. With increasing pollution levels the health of the cabin occupants should be a priority. Maruti-Suzuki should introduce the cabin air filter as soon as possible.
  2. The AC gives off a bad smell when started. This could be related to point 1 above where due to the absence of the air filter, polluted unclean air enters and remains in the AC duct.
  3. I thought there would not be any rattles and squeaks in the SX4, but I was proved wrong. There are some squeaks in the rear bench when the car passes over uneven road surface or speed bumps. At times there is a small buzz near the AC vents. The plastics quality could have been better. If VW, Honda, Fiat, VW and even Tata can do it then I am sure that Maruti-Suzuki too can. They just need to make that extra effort
  4. The NVH level is not upto the level expected in a C segment car. Horn, Traffic and Tire Road noise can be clearly heard in the cabin especially from the rear doors / around the B pillar. This could be due to the rubber beading design on the doors. Improved sound insulation required. Honda City, Fiat Linea, VW Vento and even the Tata Manza have better sound insulation.
  5. The center transmission tunnel creates a hump in the rear, robbing precious rear legroom for the middle passenger. Among the current sedans Honda City and Toyota Etios are very good examples of how the rear seating should be designed.
  6. Donít quite understand, why the center bottle holder has to protrude into the rear leg-space. especially when there is a provision for holding 1 ltr bottles on both rear doors. The emergency hand brake could have had a shorter handle and could have been moved forward and the center bottle holder can then also move forward or could be removed altogether freeing up leg-space at the rear.
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