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Old 22nd March 2014, 11:38   #391
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In between all this confusion of the road tax issues, and the RTO initially refusing to take the tax without producing NOC- we went to have a look at some of the new cars in the market.


Here's how they stack up against each other, from a Punto owners perspective :-

1. FIAT Linea 2014- Natural upgrade for a Punto owner. I am one of those who loved the new facelift model, specially the changed interiors. Features like cruise control, arm rest, ambient lighting etc make it a very interesting proposition- I specially had an eye on that cruise control feature.

However no 1.6 MJD, same 1.3L 90hp engine in a car that weighs significantly more- no way! As a new car, may be yes, but not as an upgrade from a Punto 90hp.

2. Honda City iDTec- Reigning king of its class. I was not a fan of all the chrome, but after seeing the car in black- started to admire the chiseled looks. Overloaded with features- the VX had everything you could think of - cruise control, sunroof, start stop and true keyless entry, plush leather seats, abs, airbags, climate control with touch screen, reverse camera, Bluetooth. Name anything you could think of and chances are that it will have it on the top end trim. Space was just incredible compared to the exterior dimensions and the back seat was a sofa IMO.

If you buy the car after checking it once in the showroom - no other car in its class will give a better impression than the City.

BUT, and that's a big BUT, first impressions are not always the best impressions and things start falling apart once the test drive starts. For starters- that's one noisy diesel! The saving grace though - It feels just as good as the Renault 1.5 DCi inside the city- a delight to shoot from low rpms. Sadly though- it doesn't really feel like a 100hp engine when you really want to push it.

And then- there's the ride quality. It is quite stiff and the rear is too squishy and jumps up and down quite a bit, and it's not even comparable to the FIATs/ VWs in terms of ride. Wife was sitting in the backseat for the test drive, and she felt uncomfortable with all the movement.

And then there is the build quality! Close the door with a heavy hand, and you can feel it flex. Press the steering controls or dashboard plastics and you can hear them squeak. Everything felt light and tinny. To make matters worse- the car transmits a lot of road noise to the cabin. More insulation and less weight savings were the need of the hour IMO- considering its OTR price tag that's close to 1.4 million in Bangalore.

3. Renault Duster- One look at the price tag, and the interiors (Of the adventure edition that was on display) was reason enough for wifey to decline even a TD for the car. 14L OTR! Man, when did this car get so expensive!

4. VW Vento TDi - First of all- a big shout out to the guys at Apple Auto, Whitefield. It was a nice experience to walk in rather late and still be treated in the best way possible.

Coming to the car, SE explained the features. ABS- yes, Airbags- yes, a big boot- yes, music system- yes. Vanity mirror on the passenger sunvisor- yes. But what's additional in this car than a hatchback doesn't have?

All door power windows with auto up and down, anti- pinch, and can be controlled by remote while locking the car. And well, that's about it. Not even a big improvement in terms of space available.

Ok, not much of a first impression. But the day gets better when you take it for a test drive. For starters, unlike the paper figures suggest, the VW engine is an absolute gem compared to the Honda 1.5L. It would just suffice to say- I had a big grin on my face when we came back from the test drive!

Build quality and ride quality were at par with the Punto, with the ride feeling better and the build slightly lighter. Anyways, no complaints from wife who was sitting in the backseat (same route as the City TD).

But an additional 8L for a sweet engine + boot + anti- pinch windows compared to my good old Punto? My 90hp with RD box in P2 mode feels close. Have to think about it, but anyways- City was thrown out of the list - soon after the Vento TD.

Conclusion-

Duster was out, linea was out. Honda City promised so many things, but turned out an average performer in everything it did. Vento promised less, but everything it had on offer brought a smile to the face- be it ride or build or quality.

But was it worth the huge premium I had to shell out over and above my Punto 90hp? Didn't feel so. Wifey who was maximum excited before this hunt began (She wanted a big black sedan) herself admitted that our car held it's head high against the newer, bigger, more expensive competition. An additional 1L for road tax- and it looked all set to serve us good for another long innings. Got to agree with FIAT when they say - 'If you still like driving, we are still ahead'.

And to think- I was a satisfied Maruti WagonR user 2 years ago!

PS-

Whats the fun with showroom visits without some dialogues by Sales Advisors.

SA to wifey- Madam, this car has got vanity mirrors on the sun visor.
Her- Yes thanks, but our Punto has that.

SA- But madam, in this - you can see your reflection.
Her- I believe that's why it's called a MIRROR?


This guy slowly disappeared from the scene afterwards. And another guy did the rest of the explanation.

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 22nd March 2014 at 11:46.
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Old 22nd March 2014, 21:03   #392
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Default re: A thin line between genius and insanity - Fiat Grande Punto 90HP - 1,30,000 kms and counting

Reading through your post I get the feeling that IF the Linea had a 1.6ltr engine, you would've been very tempted. Fiat really should have gotten that engine instead of chrome in the 2014 Linea!

Considering your car hasn't had any problem till now, it makes sense to simply pay the atrocious tax here and let it chug along for a few years or unitl you hit the lakh and a half mark hopefully Linea would have a 1.6 ltr engine atleast by then.

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Old 23rd March 2014, 07:55   #393
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Default re: A thin line between genius and insanity - Fiat Grande Punto 90HP - 1,30,000 kms and counting

I thought you are better off holding the Punto for another 1 Lakh km easily. No point giving it away now. Agreed the new Linea is a 1.3MJD, but in my opinion its best upgrade today esp for one who is used driving a Fiat. Not sure if anything else would satisfy you. From a build quality Ecosport. But space is something you need to check.
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Old 23rd March 2014, 08:41   #394
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Default re: A thin line between genius and insanity - Fiat Grande Punto 90HP - 1,30,000 kms and counting

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Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
And then- there's the ride quality. It is quite stiff and the rear is too squishy and jumps up and down quite a bit,
The traits mentioned about the ride quality of City, stands true for Vento and Polo GT as well. You go over a culvert, bridge etc and if there is a raised (slightly to cover the joint) part, the VW's too tend to jump up & down. The rear part that is. Feels disconnected from the Car. The Yeti too jumps over there, but much less in comparison to VW's. Other Cars go almost flat over it.

And then, there is the steering...

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ride quality were at par with the Punto, with the ride feeling better and the build slightly lighter.
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Old 24th March 2014, 01:30   #395
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Default re: A thin line between genius and insanity - Fiat Grande Punto 90HP - 1,30,000 kms and counting

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Originally Posted by shashank.nk View Post
Fiat really should have gotten that engine instead of chrome in the 2014 Linea!

Considering your car hasn't had any problem till now, it makes sense to simply pay the atrocious tax here and let it chug along for a few years or unitl you hit the lakh and a half mark
True. 1.6 MJD was a big disappointment in the new Linea. The package is really desirable otherwise (If you forget its a FIAT, that is!)
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I thought you are better off holding the Punto for another 1 Lakh km easily. No point giving it away now. Agreed the new Linea is a 1.3MJD, but in my opinion its best upgrade today esp for one who is used driving a Fiat. Not sure if anything else would satisfy you. From a build quality Ecosport. But space is something you need to check.
The most desirable options seems to be Duster / XUV 5OO W4. But I was really surprised at the price tag for the top-end Duster compared to the interior quality. I guess prices might come down once Maruti enters the compact SUV bandwagon.

Infact, i just loved the black terrano that came for Kannur BHP meet. It had all the plus points of Duster + better interiors. Sad that Nissan is taking its own sweet time to sort out its dealership issues.

PS - Anyways, nothing for now. You know my loan status. We had a look at other cars due to the frustrating situation with RTO, which has finally been resolved now. Will wait and watch for as long as the Punto continues to serve us without issues.

Last edited by CrAzY dRiVeR : 24th March 2014 at 01:32.
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Old 24th March 2014, 08:16   #396
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Default re: A thin line between genius and insanity - Fiat Grande Punto 90HP - 1,30,000 kms and counting

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Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
The most desirable options seems to be Duster / XUV 5OO W4. But I was really surprised at the price tag for the top-end Duster compared to the interior quality. I guess prices might come down once Maruti enters the compact SUV bandwagon.
If you are only looking for the highways, then yes, the XUV would fit the bill perfectly. But with city requirements and adding FE for the amount daily driving, then XUV becomes a bit difficult.

Thanks to State Taxes OTR amount goes through the roof. Else, even now, I would say, 85 bhp Duster works well which you can pump it up by RD. Interiors yes, are not all that great compared to similarly priced cars. And Terrano is way too expensive.
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Old 27th March 2014, 09:55   #397
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The traits mentioned about the ride quality of City, stands true for Vento and Polo GT as well. You go over a culvert, bridge etc and if there is a raised (slightly to cover the joint) part, the VW's too tend to jump up & down. The rear part that is. Feels disconnected from the Car. The Yeti too jumps over there, but much less in comparison to VW's. Other Cars go almost flat over it. And then, there is the steering...
My test drive was limited to City driving on Bangalore outer ring road. Maximum speed achieved was around 80kmph, over two bridges with very bad Tarmac surface and protruding expansion joints. (For Bangaloreans, I am talking about the two bridges after KR Puram towards Marathalli).

Over that bridge- the honda kept bouncing from one end to the other. One hop over an expansion joint would make it bounce 2-3 times. Vento went over this calm and composed. Wife was sitting in the backseat for both the drives, over the same conditions and she was comfortable in Vento but shaken in the city. Vento might be bad, but City was a lot worse.

That said- my experience with Vento is only limited to this TD and hence I'll accept your word on this.

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If you are only looking for the highways, then yes, the XUV would fit the bill perfectly. But with city requirements and adding FE for the amount daily driving, then XUV becomes a bit difficult. Thanks to State Taxes OTR amount goes through the roof. Else, even now, I would say, 85 bhp Duster works well which you can pump it up by RD. Interiors yes, are not all that great compared to similarly priced cars. And Terrano is way too expensive.
85ps makes most sense for Duster. True. At that price point, interiors feel acceptable, plus it seems to have enough power for most situations.
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Old 27th March 2014, 10:09   #398
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Default re: A thin line between genius and insanity - Fiat Grande Punto 90HP - 1,30,000 kms and counting

I tested all the cars that you did, about 3 months back. At that time, the T-Jet was not even in the fray as I was not too keen on petrol. Polo GT TDI impressed me, but my wife was not too keen because the rear leg space in Polo was even less than our Palio which we were intending to replace. Rapid TDI was good too, but, I did not have the nerve to buy a Skoda. Vento TDI was too softly sprung, and I did not like it that much. Also, I found that the TDI was a little unrefined to my taste, and what bothered me with both VW and Skoda was the clutch vibration. I tested Linea MJD after I tested the VW-Skoda trio and I was not too impressed with the powerr delivery. Duster was good, but, like you mentioned, the interiors were a big let down. All the while, I was putting off testing T-Jet. When I tested it, I ended up buying it.
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Old 27th March 2014, 11:10   #399
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All the while, I was putting off testing T-Jet. When I tested it, I ended up buying it.
Agreed its a brilliant package. But if you drive way too much for your daily requirements, T-Jet with 8-10kmpl FE won't justify. In your case its very good that its fits your need.

There is some compromise folks would have to make in this segment. I think the closest today is City Diesel (for 40-50km+ per day kind of requirements). Just hoping its not too soft for the humps in the city. And again as @CD said Duster 85 makes good sense, but lacks interiors. To me the ride and GC were more important requirements than interiors. So I went with it. And solved the interior problem in a partial way by adding good leather to seats. But of course plastics remain the same!

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Old 27th March 2014, 11:36   #400
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Default re: A thin line between genius and insanity - Fiat Grande Punto 90HP - 1,30,000 kms and counting

CrAzY dRiVeR - 60000 kms in almost 2 years, that's a lot of driving. Do you experience driver fatigue during long distance driving? How is the seat comfort? I could not find a good driving position during my test drive years ago.

Coming to ride comfort on Bangalore roads, most of the roads are uneven, when newly laid they are good, but eventually lose its shape due to shoddy construction and low quality materials used.

I feel a higher tyre pressure can also cause the bouncy feeling on uneven roads/bridges. My a-star has a slightly stiff suspension, the company recommends 32 psi on front/rear, but the problem is the car keeps bouncing and crashing on the unevenly laid bridges/roads in Bangalore. I reduced it to 30 psi and the ride is much much better. This was also the case with previous car baleno.

Normally the test drive cars have higher psi and picks up speed well.
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Old 27th March 2014, 11:47   #401
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Default re: A thin line between genius and insanity - Fiat Grande Punto 90HP - 1,30,000 kms and counting

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Originally Posted by CrAzY dRiVeR View Post
In between all this confusion of the road tax issues, and the RTO initially refusing to take the tax without producing NOC- we went to have a look at some of the new cars in the market.
Crazy, All the best for the hunting and IMO the new linea looks apt when you move from a Punto, which is a Italian hatch to a Italian Sedan. Anyways, Its your heart that makes the final decesion

Sent you a PM, your PM quota exceeded and the message i sent is blocked. Please clear few and check it.

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Old 27th March 2014, 15:02   #402
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Crazy, All the best for the hunting and IMO the new linea looks apt when you move from a Punto, which is a Italian hatch to a Italian Sedan. Anyways, Its your heart that makes the final decesion Sent you a PM, your PM quota exceeded and the message i sent is blocked. Please clear few and check it.
No more hunting. Managed to pay the Bangalore LTT for my 2 year old Punto, which came close to a lakh.

This is going to be one long ownership report.
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Old 27th March 2014, 16:00   #403
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Agreed its a brilliant package. But if you drive way too much for your daily requirements, T-Jet with 8-10kmpl FE won't justify. In your case its very good that its fits your need.
Totally with you on this one. Since I am a weekend driver, T-Jet makes sense to me. I enjoy my drive, and I do not have to worry about FE. When I initially started my search, my commute was rather in the diesel territory, and then things changed.
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Old 31st March 2014, 23:21   #404
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The 90 is just back from a drive to Ooty, and the odometer stands close to 64,000 now.

With 4 well built () adults and luggage on board, she pulled cleanly all the way through the Masinagudi ghats. Only on two occasions did she really struggle, and I had to make use of the handbrakes as well as the clutch. But to be fair, it's my fault letting the car drop below turbo zone in first gear on one occasion, and stopping mid way through a very very steep climb to avoid a cricket ball from the neighbourhood kids team on the second occasion.

The infamous FIAT gearing raises it's ugly head as a clear weakness during these hill drives. You need to really gun it in first to be able to shift into second gear and still be in the turbo sweet spot.
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Old 31st March 2014, 23:46   #405
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Default re: A thin line between genius and insanity - Fiat Grande Punto 90HP - 1,30,000 kms and counting

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The infamous FIAT gearing raises it's ugly head as a clear weakness during these hill drives. You need to really gun it in first to be able to shift into second gear and still be in the turbo sweet spot.
Yes, on the hills, you have to be very careful with the gearing. For my honeymoon, I went to a hotel that had 30 m + 30 m ramp with two switchbacks at a super steep angle. It was embarassing at first, but I used handbrake, gunned to 2200 RPM and released clutch without stalling. It was one delicate exercise to release clutch without stalling on a very steep incline. The non-CRDE Scorpio and Bolero of the hotel guys simply managed it without any issues.
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