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Old 14th November 2008, 02:16   #1
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Default Farewell to CNG Esteem Lxi - 50000 km review

Hi guys

This is a review of an Esteem Lxi (2004) which has been retrofitted with cng almost from the first month of ownership. The time has come now, though, for parting with it and I will soon be taking delivery of a Swift Ldi to replace the same. And it's going to be sooner than you guys think !!

Anyways, back to the topic. When we bought the car, it had just gone through a mild facelift (remember the clear lens headlamps and the new bolder grill) and I'll be damned if it didn't look good. Well from the front atleast. In Midnight Black it looked quite handsome.

As we were upgrading from a wagonR, the bump in power was quite noticeable. As was the tall gearing. I mean it does 60 kmph in first, and a hundred in second. While that may be good for 0-100 timings, trust me, it is hard in the city. You just can't pull away from a speedbreaker smoothly. Try putting it in second at 10-15 kmph and it's out of the powerband. Put it in first and you have to balance the clutch and the throttle to make sure the car doesn't buck.
But boy oh boy did it perform. It was an absolute rocket once you got it to anything over 2500 rpm and the surge of power that came was addictive.

As far as the handling is concerned I don't really care about it as I am a very sedate driver. Always slow down for corners. Ride was decent in city, though show it a rough patch and it would wallow all over the place.

Steering was way overassisted. No feel at any speed whatsoever.

Build quality was dismal, with me facing a number of problems. First the fuel tank started rusting within the first year itself. Then there were the rattles. And the driver's side door lock wouldn't open from the outside. And the brake fluid leaked. And the engine oil leaked. And the rear window (manual) refused to roll down. And the driver's side power window fell inside the door while putting it down. And water seeped inside both the headlamps.
I think you got the gist.

Now I come to the part which all of you have been waiting for, the reason why you are reading this thread anyway, you cheap, cheap guys !!

THE CNG EXPERIENCE

The car was fitted with a Landi Renzo Italian CNG kit with a 10 kg CNG tank in the boot. Cost around 35k back then.

Here's the really good part.
1) Weighing just around 850kg, the fuel efficiency was superb. Regularly gave me 20km/kg in city and upto 25km/kg on the highway jaunts. Considering the CNG cost is around 19/kg, that's peanuts !!!
Consider this. IT"S CHEAPER TO RUN THAN A HONDA ACTIVA

2) Not much drop in absolute power at higher revs.

3) Boot space still sufficient for some outstation trips.

The bad part :
1) Drop in torque at low rpm. With the tall gearing, it was an absolute torture. Sure it would still beat the hell out of any wagonR / santro, but compared to petrol, the drop was quite noticeable at < 2000 rpm.

2) Engine would die after shifting into neutral from fifth/fourth a lot of times.

3) Air filter. I don't know why, but it used to get clogged every 1000kms or so. Was a pain cleaning it that often.

So, the big question : Is it worth switching to CNG ?

Well depends on your situation. Costwise, the savings are massive, no doubt about it. If you have a driver and have a high running per month, then go for it, you'll laugh all the way to the bank.
But the niggles do make their presence felt. And to anyone looking for a new car, forget all this, just go for a diesel. Modern diesels are reliable and fuel efficient. They will serve you better in the long run.

So I am taking the plunge and going for a Swift Ldi, which like I said is coming soon. And here's a final farewell to the esteem which served me well, despite the issues. And ofcourse maruti service was great, as always.

Cheers and drive safe.
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Old 14th November 2008, 11:58   #2
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Are you selling the car off ? How much will it fetch you ? Asking because want to know how the market perceives CNG fitted cars
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Old 15th November 2008, 10:07   #3
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Spot-on review of the Esteem, D3mon. But in my opinion, you are letting go of the Esteem way too early. She still has a lot of reliable duty left in her. Have a look at my article.

Quote:
But the niggles do make their presence felt. And to anyone looking for a new car, forget all this, just go for a diesel. Modern diesels are reliable and fuel efficient. They will serve you better in the long run.
The more I read about CNG / LPG experiences, the more I get convinced that diesel is the way to go. However, this is only the case with after-market fitments. Factory-fit gas kits are superbly tuned & offer efficient service.
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Old 15th November 2008, 17:49   #4
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Spot-on review of the Esteem, D3mon. But in my opinion, you are letting go of the Esteem way too early. She still has a lot of reliable duty left in her. Have a look at my article.
I have already read your article and completely agree with you. There's a lot of life left in this old warhorse, but this is a company car and as I am getting a new one, there's no point in flogging this any more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddy View Post
Are you selling the car off ? How much will it fetch you ? Asking because want to know how the market perceives CNG fitted cars
Well, I took it to a car dealer, who was rushing off somewhere else at that time. So he took a cursory glance at it, and said consider 1,50,000 as safe. after removing CNG kit.

He said the low price was due to the phasing out of the esteem, and as I have to return the car to the company only, I didn't pursue this matter any further.

Damn, when I sold my wagonR after 4 years, I got more than that for it !! That was a pathetic offer. Thank god, I didn't have to sell it actually. Would have got burned badly.


And by the way, I got my Swift Ldi yesterday in Sunlight Copper.
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