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Old 30th October 2013, 13:29   #1
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Default Why can't manufacturers build "perfect" cars?

Disclaimer: I'm just trying to pool up all my queries and thoughts about our current Indian car scene. I don't intend to support/oppose any car/manufacturer. These are just my opinions, and no offense to anyone please. Also, as I'm a Newbie here, MODS, please merge/shift to the right place if this topic is irrelevant here.


My feeling about Car Manufacturers:

I keep reading lot of car reviews in Team-BHP and I have always wondered, if a particular car excels in one area, it definitely fails to impress in some other. If we want to have something, we have to compromise on something. Though it is a universal saying, why should it have to be that way? I always wonder if there is any single manufacturer who designs and produces a car from his heart rather than from a business mind which focuses on how he can achieve the annual target revenue.

I totally understand that this is a highly competitive business world and no one is here to do charity. But, if built with a proper care, with heart & soul into it, with an aim to deliver the best to the end consumer, in every single aspect, wouldn't we prefer that car even if costs a 30-50k more than its competition? Are they missing the point that if they can deliver a better quality product even with lesser margins, the rise in sales would compensate the profit?

Reasons behind this feeling:

If we glance through our official reviews, one can find many flaws in a particular car - right from serious weaknesses like engine power, handling etc to small yet significant things. Some of the best examples I can quote are:

Inconsistent panel gaps - Does the workers charge the company more for fitting the panels uniformly? Or lack of attention to detail?or taking the consumers for granted? I need not quote examples here, many cars from almost every manufacturer come under this category.

Reverse Camera - When a hatchback like I20 is offering this, why can't a 40 Lac sedan (A Class & C class for example) offer the same? Why did they restrict with parking sensors? Does that 5k or 10k cost for adding the camera is going to turn their factories down? In my opinion, it very much useful in a country like ours where there are tight parking spaces, randomly parked vehicles around your car & the great potholes which are extremely common on our roads combined with poor rear visibility in those cars.

Dead Pedal - A great comfort and a boon on highways. How much does it alter the cost of the vehicle? 1-3k at the max? Rather than leaving the empty space on the left side of the clutch, why can't they provide the consumer the comfort of dead pedal?

Interior Quality & Ergonomics - The best example comes to my mind is Renault Duster (No offence to owners) which I feel is terribly over-priced for that interior quality & features. Team-BHP has reported many cars including Punto, Linea, Chevy Cruze, Fiesta etc. for their poor & cheap interior plastics for their segment & price in their reviews. When a 11 lac car like Vento or Verna is offering an excellent interior quality, why can't all other companies do that?

Is it their inefficiency to manage costs? or is it their hunger for profits?

Why do we always have to lose something if we want something? Why do we have to always decide between our heart and brain? Why don't they both ever agree on one thing?

Doesn't they both agree if:

Punto has better interiors and a slightly more torquey engine?

Verna has better suspension & handling package?

Duster has better ergonomics, quality & features?

Lot of other examples can be quoted. I clearly don't understand the reason behind all this.

Is it because of lack of attention to detail? Recklessness?or Looting us with their marketing gimmicks by emphasizing the positives and creating a kind of brand image in our minds because of their hunger for profits?

Can't any of them produce a better automobile with their heart and soul in it paying a detailed attention to every small thing with an aim to give us the best that they could?

Don't we deserve better for the price we are paying? Dear BHPians, your views please.
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Old 30th October 2013, 14:21   #2
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Default re: Why can't manufacturers build "perfect" cars?

There is a concept of TTWW (Things that went wrong) with every car. Heard this from the engineers at Ford India. According to them every car has a few things that go wrong due to multiple constraints like engineering limitations, cost, product positioning, competition, part sharing, profitability, loyalties (in case of Maruti) etc. Customers as a pool have a a wide array of preferences, choices, needs and wishes which is very difficult to fulfill on an individual scale. If some car is indeed perfect the cost of engineering one will be sky high for the car to be mass produced. (Eg: Rolls Royce is the best in the segment that it operates but look at its prices)

Example:
Lets say the Hyundai Fluidic Verna which is the segment leader in terms of sales. 90% of the junta is happy with what the car offers and that reflects in the monthly numbers. Now as a manufacturer if I were to meet demands of the remaining 10% junta by providing a solid ride and handling car, I will have to spend XXX amount of money on the drawing board to come out with a better design which will result in an increase of say 10% in the cost of the car. Now will the car be as successful as it is now (remember we are a very price sensitive market)? The Verna could very well end up being a New Ford Fiesta (which became dud to its insane pricing). Lastly there is no such thing as perfect in this world hence Its best to buy a car which has lowest TTWW ratings.

According to a marketing survey done in India, there are only 3 factors which majorly make a car purchase decision:
  1. Kitna Deti Hai?
  2. How Expensive?
  3. How does it look?
The Duster, Verna, Honda City, XUV500 which are all success stories answer these three questions in a satisfactory way. The examples that you gave of Dead Pedal, Interior Quality, Ergonomics, Reverse camera dont come into the above categories. These are not deal breakers for majority of the Junta.

At times we become over cynical/too choosy and tend to ignore the good things in life. There is no such thing as a perfect car. If there really was one why would there be so many manufacturers and so many different cars being made?

Time to just bury the TTWW's and enjoy your ride!

Last edited by rahulsharma2008 : 30th October 2013 at 14:35.
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Old 30th October 2013, 14:28   #3
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Default re: Why can't manufacturers build "perfect" cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by madhav14 View Post
Is it because of lack of attention to detail? Recklessness?or Looting us with their marketing gimmicks by emphasizing the positives and creating a kind of brand image in our minds because of their hunger for profits?
I thought about this many times and my respone is quoted above.

It is becoming difficult for manufacturer to make profits because of competition and high taxes.

Once i had checked manufacuting cost of an Innova G variant some years back and it came to 3.5L (cost based on BOM). Ofcourse huge taxes are added + company margin+ dealer margins + royalty will bring ex-showroom to over 10L. Then add state specific VAT + Road tax which will take it to over 13L.

For a customer that car is costing 13L but manufacturer will struggle to make a couple of lakhs.

I was stunned to hear that skoda was selling a Fabia on a loss which they compensated by selling 3 rapids .
Its becoming difficult to do business in india for auto manufacturers.

Edit: Rahul made a very good point. If 90% junta is happy then a manufacturer will not invest more to make remaining 10% happy.

Last edited by djay99 : 30th October 2013 at 14:32.
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Old 30th October 2013, 14:58   #4
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Default re: Why can't manufacturers build "perfect" cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahulsharma2008 View Post
According to a marketing survey done in India, there are only 3 factors which majorly make a car purchase decision:
  1. Kitna Deti Hai?
  2. How Expensive?
  3. How does it look?
The marketing survey didn't even scratch the surface in that case. The reigning questions still are:
1) Which vehicles do my neighbors/relatives have
2) What does my all knowing uncle/chacha/mama recommend

If the vehicle in your mind doesn't pass these two criteria, then the possibility of it standing in your garage is very slim

Coming back to the topic, one aspect I haven't been able to figure out is better grade pastics and panel gaps. Be it the Thar, Duster or numerous other examples, how tough can it be to have good quality, tightly screwed plastics inside a car?

A sub 5L car like Fabia got it right for God's sake!

Last edited by avisidhu : 30th October 2013 at 15:00.
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Old 30th October 2013, 15:15   #5
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Default re: Why can't manufacturers build "perfect" cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by avisidhu View Post
The marketing survey didn't even scratch the surface in that case. The reigning questions still are:
1) Which vehicles do my neighbors/relatives have
2) What does my all knowing uncle/chacha/mama recommend

If the vehicle in your mind doesn't pass these two criteria, then the possibility of it standing in your garage is very slim

Coming back to the topic, one aspect I haven't been able to figure out is better grade pastics and panel gaps. Be it the Thar, Duster or numerous other examples, how tough can it be to have good quality, tightly screwed plastics inside a car?

A sub 5L car like Fabia got it right for God's sake!
It all boils down to the level of automation and robotization that manufacturers have on their assembly lines. Renualt/Nissan/Mahindra in case of Thar use the old methods as compared to a VW or a Honda which again boils down to a major factor "Cost". Can say so confidently because I come from a capital goods background and have been visiting these facilities since a decade.

And your so called Reigning questions might be valid in your case or the people around you's case but they dont hold good in majority of the car buying junta. (Psychologies of people are different from Chandigarh and Mumbai and from place to place) When I say majority it could be north of 80%. As I said these factors majorly affected the car purchase decision. Obviously there are other factors but these 3 were the topmost ones. I was part of a major marketing exercise done by Maruti Suzuki for their to-be released Vento Challenger and hence can say so.

My two cents to it.

Last edited by rahulsharma2008 : 30th October 2013 at 15:24.
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Old 30th October 2013, 15:33   #6
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Default re: Why can't manufacturers build "perfect" cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahulsharma2008 View Post
And your so called Reigning questions might be valid in your case or the people around you's case but they dont hold good in majority of the car buying junta. When I say majority it could be north of 80%. I was part of a major marketing exercise done by Maruti Suzuki for their to-be released Vento Challenger and hence can say so.

My two cents to it.
I don't mean to diss any such research, but here's a food for thought. Based on the same criteria you mentioned, try launching a vehicle outside maruti/hyundai but competing with their products. Let it be the epitome in terms of FE, Cost and good looks within it's price bracket. In my very humble opinion, that might just be another lesson in itself.

And the questions I mentioned while not being true in my case, matter a lot in tier 2 and 3 cities and villages. These are the places which have been witnessing ever increasing purchasing power recently. These factors could be specific to a certain geography, but have seen far too many instances to ignore them. Of course it's understandable that they end up as a derivative of the questions you mentioned, as in no one will touch a low FE car so won't get any recommendations as well. But conversely, products competent enough on these criteria have been ignored by people just because of lack of awareness. Ford Fusion, Jazz(after the price revision) are a few examples of cars which should have set sales charts on fire, but didn't.
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Old 30th October 2013, 15:45   #7
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Default Re: Why can't manufacturers build "perfect" cars?

The answer to the question mentioned in the title of the thread is "Yes we deserve better" and the solution to it lies with us, with our political leaders, with our policy makers. The need of the hour is staggered reduction in taxes on cars and improving the overall tax/expenditure efficiency of our country. Who knows tomorrow some Team-Bhpian might become a policy maker in the government and do exactly what we all wish for !

Till then there will be many more TTWW's with our cars and our car purchase decisions which you and me cant do much about except voicing our opinions online.

Happy Motoring !!!
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Old 30th October 2013, 15:46   #8
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Default Re: Don't we deserve better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahulsharma2008 View Post
Now as a manufacturer if I were to meet demands of the remaining 10% junta by providing a solid ride and handling car, I will have to spend XXX amount of money on the drawing board to come out with a better design which will result in an increase of say 10% in the cost of the car.
Even I'm trying to emphasize the same (with regard to Verna). Hyundai guys have been receiving complaints about their suspension since several years. If they had concentrated on that aspect and improved, the story of Verna would have been completely different altogether. It would have set a benchmark in sales and would have become a legend in Hyundai's history.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahulsharma2008 View Post
The examples that you gave of Dead Pedal, Interior Quality, Ergonomics, Reverse camera dont come into the above categories. These are not deal breakers for majority of the Junta.
Ofcourse, these are not deal breakers. I just feel that they complete the car in a much better way and the manufacturers can do that with very slightly higher expense which they are not even bothered to do right now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahulsharma2008 View Post
At times we become over cynical/too choosy and tend to ignore the good things in life. There is no such thing as a perfect car. If there really was one why would there be so many manufacturers and so many different cars being made?

Time to just bury the TTWW's and enjoy your ride!
Well said .

Quote:
Originally Posted by djay99 View Post
I thought about this many times and my respone is quoted above.

It is becoming difficult for manufacturer to make profits because of competition and high taxes.

Once i had checked manufacuting cost of an Innova G variant some years back and it came to 3.5L (cost based on BOM). Ofcourse huge taxes are added + company margin+ dealer margins + royalty will bring ex-showroom to over 10L. Then add state specific VAT + Road tax which will take it to over 13L.

For a customer that car is costing 13L but manufacturer will struggle to make a couple of lakhs.

I was stunned to hear that skoda was selling a Fabia on a loss which they compensated by selling 3 rapids .
Its becoming difficult to do business in india for auto manufacturers.

Edit: Rahul made a very good point. If 90% junta is happy then a manufacturer will not invest more to make remaining 10% happy.
Wow!! That's very interesting to know. Coming to this point of taxes and government regulations, I have recently observed an interesting point (well, interesting at least to me ).

In US, an average PG professional is getting around 40k-50k dollars p.a. at the minimum. And if we take an example of Honda Accord, it is costing around $32k which means the price of the car is around 70% of his annual salary.

Whereas here in India, the same Honda Accord costs around 30 lacs and the average salary of a PG professional is around 5-6 lacs which means around 5 times of his annual salary.

Huge difference in the purchasing power. Guess our government regulations are playing a major role here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by avisidhu View Post
The marketing survey didn't even scratch the surface in that case. The reigning questions still are:
1) Which vehicles do my neighbors/relatives have
2) What does my all knowing uncle/chacha/mama recommend

If the vehicle in your mind doesn't pass these two criteria, then the possibility of it standing in your garage is very slim

Coming back to the topic, one aspect I haven't been able to figure out is better grade pastics and panel gaps. Be it the Thar, Duster or numerous other examples, how tough can it be to have good quality, tightly screwed plastics inside a car?

A sub 5L car like Fabia got it right for God's sake!
Very well said. That's what I'm talking about. Why are they so reckless while even fitting and screwing together a car properly?
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Old 30th October 2013, 16:02   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madhav14 View Post
Even I'm trying to emphasize the same (with regard to Verna). Hyundai guys have been receiving complaints about their suspension since several years. If they had concentrated on that aspect and improved, the story of Verna would have been completely different altogether. It would have set a benchmark in sales and would have become a legend in Hyundai's history.
Just to enlighten you, Hyundai Fluidic Verna is already a benchmark in C2 Segment sales and it is already a legend in Hyundai's Boardrooms. Just look at monthly numbers of Verna vs Vento or City or Rapid or Sunny and you will get your answer.

Coming to the technical part, engineering a car's suspension is not just bolting a hard set up to make a car like Verna ride flatter. It is an art, a science which involves a lot of R&D followed by rigorous testing on the road. That is why it is called tuning! A company like M&M outsourced the suspension development to Lotus which took a good compensation for the same. Obviously the guys at Mahindra are brighter than you and me, that is why they sourced it to Lotus.

I get your overall point and donot hold you wrong for your thoughts, its just that we at Team-BHP, think about cars more from our hearts than our minds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by djay99 View Post
Once i had checked manufacuting cost of an Innova G variant some years back and it came to 3.5L (cost based on BOM). Ofcourse huge taxes are added + company margin+ dealer margins + royalty will bring ex-showroom to over 10L. Then add state specific VAT + Road tax which will take it to over 13L.
I agree that the cost of a car costing 13 lakhs would be substantially lower to the high rate of taxes but it cant be as low as 3.5L since the expenses for manufacturer range from R&D Expenses, Capital Goods Expenses, Wages, Salaries etc

Last edited by aah78 : 31st October 2013 at 00:37. Reason: Posts merged. Please use QUOTE+ / " " (MULTI-QUOTE) when responding to multiple posts. Thanks!
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Old 30th October 2013, 16:17   #10
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Default Re: Why can't manufacturers build "perfect" cars?

It's a bit of an accademic question I think. Untill you define the requirements "perfect" I dont think you can even begin to define the "perfect car". You might find a few like minded individuals ont his forum, but its big world out there, with individual taste, like and dislikes.

You mention panel gaps. There's probably lots of people out there who wouldn't even begin to understand what that is or why it might be relevant. My wife certainly would not have a clue. She wants a cute car, in a nice color.

Handling, again, just because some 'experts' might agree it handles when doesn't mean everybody agrees.

My dad used to buy cars the way he would buy a loaf of bread. Walk into the dealer, walk around a car, and tell the salesperson, this will do. He wouldn't even get in. So would never even be bothered by interior quality.

When we lived in the USA all the wifes all our friends and collequeas drove Range Rovers. Only because they were cool and everybody taking their kids to school and sports had one. Honestly, there was nothing else to it. Call it peer pressure, whatever, but had nothing to do what gets discussed on this forum as relevant buying critiria.

If some of the posts on this forum are anything to go by, to get to the perfect car we would probably need to get:

- a Mercedes W123, (old cars are better and more reliable)
- fit a boxer engine (apparantly the best balanced engine)
- give it Citroen suspension (so we can do away with this modern
suspension crap).

Also, this perfect car is on no account to have any modern electronics fitted, because since the introduction of car electronics it has been a downhill battle on reliability ever. So we don't want that any of it.

I, for one, would never ever buy such a car, so it would be perfect for all minus 1.

And lets be honest, if there was such a thing as the perfect car, what would we discuss on this forum?

Jeroen
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Old 30th October 2013, 16:23   #11
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Default Re: Don't we deserve better?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahulsharma2008 View Post
Just to enlighten you, Hyundai Fluidic Verna is already a benchmark in C2 Segment sales and it is already a legend in Hyundai's Boardrooms. Just look at monthly numbers of Verna vs Vento or City or Rapid or Sunny and you will get your answer.
When I said legend, I meant in "A Perfect Car" way, making it almost perfect, without even having that single complaint, which is like a dot on a white paper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahulsharma2008 View Post
Coming to the technical part, engineering a car's suspension is not just bolting a hard set up to make a car like Verna ride flatter. It is an art, a science which involves a lot of R&D followed by rigorous testing on the road. That is why it is called tuning! A company like M&M outsourced the suspension development to Lotus which took a good compensation for the same. Obviously the guys at Mahindra are brighter than you and me, that is why they sourced it to Lotus.
Yeah I totally agree with you here. At last, now they have opened their eyes and started working on their suspension part. Our team-bhp official review of Grand i10 has confirmed that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahulsharma2008 View Post
I get your overall point and donot hold you wrong for your thoughts, its just that we at Team-BHP, think about cars more from our hearts than our minds.
EXACTLY SIRJEE
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Old 30th October 2013, 16:42   #12
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Default Re: Why can't manufacturers build "perfect" cars?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rahulsharma2008 View Post
I agree that the cost of a car costing 13 lakhs would be substantially lower to the high rate of taxes but it cant be as low as 3.5L since the expenses for manufacturer range from R&D Expenses, Capital Goods Expenses, Wages, Salaries etc
That's the reason i mentioned Bill of Material cost. Price mentioned was sum of all the child parts put in an innova excluding R&D, Royalty, Profit Margins, Salaries etc.
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Old 30th October 2013, 17:57   #13
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Default Re: Why can't manufacturers build "perfect" cars?

God has not created a perfect man (except ME, perhaps) or woman yet. Then how can the man's creation (car, home, phone, any other consumer goods) be perfect?
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Old 30th October 2013, 18:56   #14
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Default Re: Why can't manufacturers build "perfect" cars?

It's all due to the mindset of the people in india. Most people in India(excluding enthusiasts) would always want their car to be big(Badi Gaadi) and which would also give good fuel efficiency(you might have heard that usual dialogue from many when you buy a vehicle -"kitni deti hai?"). All this they want at an economical value. Most don't even care about other features in the interior other than a music player and A/C (safety toh bhool hee jao!)Adding to that is the heavy tax on vehicles in India. So the company tries to give these features in the car to the people and try to cut costs in the stuffs that most people don't care about. That's why you can't find perfect cars here.
If you go to European countries, you won't see perfect cars there but atleast you can see near to perfect cars with all the features that you have mentioned.
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Old 30th October 2013, 19:08   #15
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Default Re: Why can't manufacturers build "perfect" cars?

Hey Madhav,

The question you ask in the title itself is pretty rhetoric to me. What may seem perfect to you may not seem so to me or vice-verse. What you may like about a car I may not like it. So how do you define a perfect car? For example if you read all the reviews on the XUV 500, a lot of people find the level of kit offered to be really good while many others have commented that they would rather go in for a W6 because they do not want those many features. Also while you may find the looks of say for example the Duster as perfect some may find it boring. While some may find the engine of an Innova under powered others maybe okay with it.

Hence the perfect car theory is very subjective and obviously you cannot expect manufacturers to personalize cars as per individual tastes.

If your reason for starting this thread is finding a perfect car in terms of its features, looks, engine, handling, etc only; then i do not see the point, as I am sure the people who are handed over the job to conceptualize a new product are bigger petrol heads than you and me, better qualified to do their job and hence i am sure put their heart (well except for when they come up with products like the new Innova ), but what may seem perfect to them may not seem so to you and reading people bash up the products that they have conceptualized in reviews would probably break their hearts. Obviously they would also have to keep in mind the business aspect and the markets.

However when you talk about a perfect car and try look for one, I would rather discuss a car that is reliable and niggle free. Yes some may argue that after all its a machine and there might be defects in one off cases, but to me the biggest disappointment comes in when a new car is launched and within a few days there are niggles threads coming up, with the latest example of the new Skoda Octavia. While for me the Octavia is a perfect car in terms of looks, features, engine, models on offer, price also to an extent, and I was hoping that Skoda would have sorted out all the niggles and its ASS before launching this one, but it broke my heart to see someone posting about the issues he is facing with his Octavia already and he is probably the first one on the forum to own one.

Hence the point that i am trying to make with my rant above is that I feel calling a car perfect on the basis of its looks, features, etc is subjective and a matter of personal choice however it still makes sense to discuss and judge a car on the basis of the peace of mind that a car offers and its reliability.

Cheers!!

VVB
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