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Old 23rd July 2011, 08:24   #1
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Default My impressions of the Jazz X, i10, City, i20 diesel and Vento 1.6

Moderators, please move this to the appropriate section or existing thread, if this is not an appropriate place for it.

I am trying to decide between buying a 4x4 (Thar and Gypsy are the contenders) now, or buying a small car now and build a dedicated off road vehicle later. This thread is about the small cars I have driven recently. I have looked at a very wide range of prices and sizes so as to understand if there is a sweet spot that appeals to me.

The cars I have driven: Honda Jazz X, Honda City, Hyundai i10 1.2, Hyundai i20 1.4 diesel, VW Vento 1.6 Petrol. For reference, I am currently driving a 2008 Honda Civic and my wife has a Honda Accord. These two cars set my day to day reference standard. In my order of preference, I would rate the cars I have test driven recently as follows:

1. Jazz X
2. i10
3. City
4. i20 diesel
6. Vento 1.6

The Vento 1.6 was a major disappointment. Its upmarket look and the glowing reviews in the Indian automotive press had me expecting a truly great product, but I didn't find it to be that. The interior is reminiscent of old small VWs, like a modernized remake of the design asthetic the 1984 Jetta I used to have, or a late 1980s VW Fox and early 1990s passat friends of mine had, and not of recent highly regarded VWs like the Passat 2.0T or the current Golf. The interior is forgettable with a few strong negatives (in my view). The cowl is too high in effect the dash rises high up in your line of view. It creates a tank like effect that is reminicent of old Volvo 240s and 740s and old VWs but is not to my taste because I like the cowl to be low and out of my line of sight. The shifter is too low and the the flip up arm rest is directly between my shoulder and the knob and there is no clean way for me to shift without twisting my arm around to avoid the arm rest (whether its flipped up or down).

The engine is gruff, even gravelly, and not in a sport exciting way. its just low on refinement and doesn't compensate by having a thrilling or fun feel to it. On the positive side, the car looks nice, is quite spacious for cars in this class, and the small steering wheel is very nice in low speed and parking maneuvers. the handling and steering feel however are unremarkable. If you push the car, it does what you ask and doesn't resist and complain, buts its not all that great either.

On the whole, this car looks very snazzy but the demeanor and feel is of staid stoicism. In the world of cars, this is not a miniaturized audi (as VWs tend to be), but rather a made-to-be-durable cheap bargain basement car as VW has always done when its been aiming for inexpensive rather than appealing.

It, the polo 1.6 and the Fabia 1.6 are all out.

The next up on my list is the i20 Diesel. This car to me defines mediocrity. middle of road. in offensive but uninspiring. The car looks very good. the interior design and quality is satisfactory (though the brown color scheme is awful). This car more than any other small car I have driven does a really good impression of driving like a larger luxury car. It has the ride, feel, responses, smoothness of a larger, heavier luxury car and thats a good thing for a lot of people. Its control responses, noise and vibration feedback in response to your and the road's inputs, the way it steers around corners and rides bumps all make me think mini luxury car.

Furthermore, the diesel engine in this car is an eye opener. its weak in the bottom end but when it gets into its power band, it flies. the ferocity of the engine coming on boost is quite a shock in a diesel especially. not only is it fast, its got a cammy feel thats very surprising and can be a lot of fun. but its not all fun and games because it also creates a non-linearity in the driving experience. Unlike cammy petrol engines that don't go on and off cam (or on and off boost, or on and off the high RPM cam) in the middle of normal routine driving, the i20's diesel goes from mild to wild in normal acceleration. nothing wrong with that, just takes away from the feeling of being a really cohesive piece.

on the whole, a nice comfy car that doesn't excite (engine apart).

the next up in my list here is the City. For me the City is like a poorer rendition of the Jazz. Its a honda and has the excellent driving characteristics of a Honda, and easily the best sedan I have driven under the 12 lacs mark, but in my drive back to back with the Jazz I was mostly struck by the extra slug of torque the engine had, the cheesy interior materials, the less sophisticated interior design, and the poorer build quality compared to the Jazz. Apart from that, it drives like a heavier, more powerful, softer version of the Jazz

The biggest surprise in my automotive life recently has been the i10 1.2 Magna. I expected it to feel like a Wagon R or something a bit more than a Wagon R and a lot less than the Swift. But it really blew me away. Right off the bat, the car exudes quality and refinement that are completely out of line with its compact dimensions and light weight. The steering is so smooth, so accurate, so frictionless and yet nicely weighted, the structure of the car is rigid and superbly damped. the ride is excellent, with the texture and small irregularities of the road nicely smothered and bigger bumps smoothly and quietly damped out. The engine is extremely refined and so very capable of moving this little car around with elan without ever straining or feeling stressed. THe shift feel is excellent.

On the negative side, the car rolls a lot in corners. Soft suspension combined with its tall dimension causes it to list like a boat. but pushing it in corners I found that it arc through corners just fine, holding its line with good stability and a minimum of steering input.

the only reason i don't buy this car is a shortage of legroom for tall drivers (I am 6'3"). Otherwise, this is the absolute most perfect urban runabout I have ever encountered.

The last and best here is the Jazz X. I love its interior. its spacious, its well designed, its well made. the sightlines to the outside are superb. The car is low around you with lots of glass area. The steering feels great, the instruments look wonderful, the car has so much room inside. The minor controls are all so intuitively placed. On the move, this car demonstrates a level of finesse in mechanical feel that speaks of truly exceptional engineering. The engine is an absolute gem. Though its just a 1.2, it is easily the most refined, silky, free revving unit of any of these cars and many more besides. So while you don't get zooming speed, the refinement and silkiness of the engine and the fine snarl that accompanies it, makes for effortless and truly enjoyable driving around town. If your thing is to be straining to pass a car going at 120km/h on the highway in the 0.03 seconds you have left before the oncoming bus reaches you, then the jazz is going to be low on power for you, but for me, its entirely enough. I would have loved it if the car had been fitted with the 1.5 it gets in international markets, but the 1.2 will do fine.

along with the realy fine engine is really fine steering. the steering feels like it is spinning of ceramic teflon coated ball bearings, it is so smooth and so silky in the way it turns. On the move "scalpel sharp" comes to mind about the steering. As the car moves over the road, the steering does an absolutely excellent job of giving you input that corroborates what the suspension is telling you and the overall feeling is of a very cohesively engineered and developed car.

On the highway at speed, the car has a beautiful combination of feeling both stable and featherweight responsive. around town, the joyous engine, the excellent shifter, the creamy clutch, the sharp light steering all make for a truly wonderful car.

At 7.5 lacs, I was ready to buy it because while it was low on power for a car that pricey, its quality, refinement and depth of fine engineering made it worth that. THe cheaper cars are cheaper for a good reason. Now that Honda has announced big price cuts, this car is a no brainer.

If I don't buy the Thar or Gypsy, I will buy a Jazz X, though the i10 remains an outside possibility because it is just so good in the Delhi). However, I still need to do some analysis because I need to travel to my farm a lot and that makes diesel cars attractive. I have not yet driven a diesel car that makes me feel like its a must have. I'll do some more test drives. but not for a few weeks yet because in about 20 min, I am hitting the road towards srinagar for my annual tour of kashmir and ladakh.

thanks for reading and I welcome your comments which I will read if I find internet access conveniently
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Old 23rd July 2011, 09:04   #2
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Default Re: my impressions of a few cars I drove

I had glanced through your Thar thread too.

Though more suited for the highway, this one after it's BS4 implementation is quite good in the city too. Most people forget it. Since you are 6'3" you'll appreciate the space on offer. Consider the Optra Magnum Diesel. Read this: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/sedans...ml#post2379561 (Choosing a Spacious Diesel Sedan upto 12L)

The interiors sure look dated (though still are high quality), but besides that it has a LOT going for it.

All the best for your trip. Guess we'll be treated to some good pictures
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Old 23rd July 2011, 16:02   #3
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Default Re: My impressions of the Jazz X, i10, City, i20 diesel and Vento 1.6

Harbir, a great read! It is heartening to see walk into each test-drive with an open mind despite having owned/driven so many cars (some big luxe ones at that).

You have a knack of calling a spade a spade. The vento comments may not please the "heil germany" crowd too much!!
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Old 24th July 2011, 17:24   #4
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Default Re: My impressions of the Jazz X, i10, City, i20 diesel and Vento 1.6

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbir View Post
I am currently driving a 2008 Honda Civic and my wife has a Honda Accord.
Most BHPians would consider themselves to be lucky if their wives have such good taste in cars.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbir View Post
The Vento 1.6 was a major disappointment.
You just happened to test the wrong version. Take the diesel out for a spin.
I agree you will still be sitting in a spartan cabin. And the continuous diesel hum can make it feel like a Vintage. But it is one of the best driving machines.

As you have rightly pointed out. I10 is indeed a remarkable hatch. The only sore point is handling. What I find it surprising is that you find the Handling of 120 satisfactory. IMO it is as bad as I10.

The jazz with a price cut also makes sense. A 1.5L on the Jazz would be icing on the cake.
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Old 24th July 2011, 17:49   #5
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Default Re: My impressions of the Jazz X, i10, City, i20 diesel and Vento 1.6

Am in no way a FIAT fan boy , but , but just for the heck of it I would really like it if you'd try the FIAT LInea TJet and the FIAT Punto 90 HP . I would love to read your take on these 2 cars . Reading your review I feel as though I can relate to what am reading . Less of technical jargon . More of a common man explanation and experience . Am sure you'll have a lot of bad comments for the interiors but I'd really like you to review these 2 cars even if you dont wish to buy them , like I said just for the heck of it !
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Old 24th July 2011, 20:33   #6
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Default Re: My impressions of the Jazz X, i10, City, i20 diesel and Vento 1.6

I earlier thought that Harbir is looking only for the hatchback. Then I saw the Vento and City in the list.

For Vento you have to take a TD in the diesel version.

And yes. FIAT Tjet is missing. You have to take a TD of that too.
Won't recommend the Punto 90HP. Its a case of "Where are those extra horses".

And this is yet another vindication of the incredible amount of sense the i10 makes. If one wants a Petrol Hatchback then this is the one.

Happy TD'ing.

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Old 25th July 2011, 07:26   #7
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Default Re: My impressions of the Jazz X, i10, City, i20 diesel and Vento 1.6

Excellent 3G service here in Srinagar.

Thanks for the comments, everyone. I will check out the diesel Vento as well when I get back to the plains in 2-3 weeks. While my objections to the Vento I drove were not limited to the engine (don't like the interior, the high dashboard, the placement of the shift lever and found the steering, ride, handling and general mechanical feel entirely ordinary) and might be expected to apply to the diesel as well, I am also aware that a different engine or a different suspension set up can transform a car, so I will approach one with an open mind.

I wasn't going to look at any Fiats because of the press chatter about their poor quality build, but given how skeptical I am of the press (I don't trust them to be discerning, skiller, informed assessors of cars, and I suspect that they are prone to being swayed by personal prejudices, brand imagery and flattery by the companies), I realize that my not test driving Fiats myself is not fair.

I will check them out as well.

I will also check out the Fiesta classic since thats said to be a particular good handling car.

but it will also have to wait. I will be in srinagar for a few days so will check in a few times but the test drives will not be for a few weeks yet.

by the way, I am also wondering if I shouldn't postpone any purchase till I've had a chance to drive the new Swift. I am a big fan of the swift. The present swift, while a very ordinary car, is also an exceptionally good car.
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Old 25th July 2011, 11:16   #8
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Default Re: My impressions of the Jazz X, i10, City, i20 diesel and Vento 1.6

First of all, I guess the post must have been titled 'Polo 1.6' and not Vento 1.6. Anyway, moving on.

There are great expectations from the New Swift. Maruti seems to have realised the brand value and news is that it'll be positioned as a more premium offering than the current one. Still, should be a great little car and excellent bang for your buck! If not in a hurry, I guess it's good to wait till August to find out.
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Old 25th July 2011, 13:51   #9
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Default Re: My impressions of the Jazz X, i10, City, i20 diesel and Vento 1.6

I drove a vento not a polo.
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Old 2nd August 2011, 09:44   #10
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Hey Harbir! Sorry I did not notice the ruling out of Polo part! can't put the 'I'm stupid' smiley from my iPod :P
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Old 26th August 2011, 15:10   #11
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Default Re: My impressions of the Jazz X, i10, City, i20 diesel and Vento 1.6

The Jazz reducing its price after the City reduced its piece has changed equations in the auto industry!

The Jazz is by far the most attractive and attractively priced hatch in the Indian market now - its Achilles heel is the low torque and power for highway driving. The City is the best car in its class and after all the calculations ad Jazz Select is 2 lakh cheaper than a City SMT. So it remains to be seen whether you are buying a car for the city or the highway. For the zip needed to overtake a car on the Highway, the City will respond better than the Jazz. In all other respects - looks, price, interior, exteriors, features - the Jazz beats the City.

I drove the Polo 1.6 (rather than the Vento 1.6 which has the same engine and a boot with a few additional features thrown in) and the City and the Jazz. I agree with Harbir that the Polo 1.6 does not quite match the Jazz or the City - it does not have the power edge over the Jazz and seems quite standard in its design, while its 1.6 engine is no match for Honda's 1.5 iVTEC.

The final choice for a 1.2 would boil down to a Jazz and the new Swift or for Highways it wil have to be the City. For the price, safety features and engine, the City does not seem to have competition even today in its class.

I have not tried the SX4 and the Verna or the i10. These could be good cars in their own right, but I have no first hand knowledge of these.
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Old 31st August 2011, 08:14   #12
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Default Re: My impressions of the Jazz X, i10, City, i20 diesel and Vento 1.6

I drove two cars:

1. the new Swift VDi.

The first impressions were very good. While the previous swift's interior never struck me as anything less than satisfactory (in fact I really liked the seating position, controls layout and forward visibility of the previous swift), this new swift's interior now has a very chic modern style to it. On the move however, I was disappointed in this car. Straight off, I did not like the diesel engine (first time I've drive the DDiS). Its noisy and its sluggish in feel and throttle response compared to the various petrols I have driven recently. Going on from there, the honest truth is that while the swift looks like the old one, it does not drive anything like the old one. It does not feel like a better version of the old car. it feels like a completely new and different car. that in itself is not a bad thing, but virtually everything about the old swift that appealed to me (steering and handling primarily) are quite different. In absolute terms, a very good car, but really now a forgettable experience and not a stand out that it was. In my view only, that is. I may feel differently about the petrol, but there aren't any available to test drive.

unless its substantially different from the diesel, I predict that the the jazz will make mincemeat out of the swift. but the service network of maruti, the spares prices, the equity of the brand name will ensure that Maruti sells every one they make.

I am wondering if I shouldn't look for an old model ZXi while left overs are still available new, if I can get a good discount.

I should also mention here something I notice I neglected to in the original post of this thread. the Swift Diesel I mentioned disappointed with its lack of refinement relative to the petrol. WHile I didn't say this about the i20 Diesel, it was true there as well. I was actually shocked at the loud and rough character compared to petrols. as to power characteristics, the swift diesel is much more linear. It is not nearly as fast as the i20 diesel, but nor does it have a bipolar character like the i20 which is always going to mild to wild as boost kicks in.

2. i10 Automatic. Another disappointment. I have been very impressed with the i10 manual, but this i10 auto drove like like a cheap tin box economy car, and no more. Its steering did not have the lovely effortless twirlability of the i10 manual I drove. Upon acceleration, I felt an unpleasant metallic harshness in the steering wheel. It had a bumpy ride, always jiggling like a cheap economy car and getting jumpy on the bigger irregularities on the road. The engine feels weak and requires bit bootfuls of throttle to keep up with swift moving traffic.

this was a major disappointment to me because had this car combined what I experienced with the previous i10 with the convenience of an automatic, it would have been bought for my wife on the spot.

I am surprised to reread what I wrote about the i10 Magna because this i10 Sportz AT was not like this in anyway:

Quote:
The steering is so smooth, so accurate, so frictionless and yet nicely weighted, the structure of the car is rigid and superbly damped. the ride is excellent, with the texture and small irregularities of the road nicely smothered and bigger bumps smoothly and quietly damped out. The engine is extremely refined and so very capable of moving this little car around with elan without ever straining or feeling stressed.
When I mentioned this to the sales guy he pointed out the dead LCD cluster in the instrument panel (which I had commented on before), and said that the car has an electrical fault and a bad bearing in the steering rack thats causing its steering to feel abnormal.

That might be true, but it still doesn't explain the very great difference in ride quality.

i told the guy all this and said that I have not given up hope in the i10 Asta auto (the A star auto doesn't have power ORVMs, ABS or airbags and the i20 auto is both a ton more expensive and too large to nip around as easily as the i10 in delhi streets which is a very attractive trait of the i10 manual I drove). I said we would still consider buying it but I would want to test drive the specific unit they intend to sell us and see whether it has the steering and chassis traits from the i10 manual I drove, and decide.

so now I have to go to their stock yard and test drive that car.

I originally started this thread looking at a car for myself, but my wife and I have decided to get her a small automatic car and I'll take over her accord.
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Old 31st August 2011, 09:59   #13
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Default Re: My impressions of the Jazz X, i10, City, i20 diesel and Vento 1.6

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Originally Posted by Harbir View Post
the honest truth is that while the swift looks like the old one, it does not drive anything like the old one. It does not feel like a better version of the old car. it feels like a completely new and different car.

the Swift Diesel I mentioned disappointed with its lack of refinement relative to the petrol. WHile I didn't say this about the i20 Diesel, it was true there as well. I was actually shocked at the loud and rough character compared to petrols.
One of my friend experienced the same feeling in the new Swift. They should have retained the handling characteristics of the old Swift which it was known for.

I own a i20 CRDi. I get these loud sounds only during a cold start. But at speeds above 30, its completely silent and almost feels like a petrol car.
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Old 31st August 2011, 10:49   #14
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Default Re: My impressions of the Jazz X, i10, City, i20 diesel and Vento 1.6

Harbir - I used to drive the i10 Asta AT and have a strong feeling that the TD car was not in best of shape. I would suggest you to try another TD vehicle.
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Old 31st August 2011, 11:09   #15
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Default Re: My impressions of the Jazz X, i10, City, i20 diesel and Vento 1.6

its interesting that they use bad condition cars for TDs. the guy admitted to me that this car had some faults (though they did not explain the rough ride). I had some months ago driven a Ritz and there was a loud metallic roar from the rear of the car that completely overwhelmed any other impression one might make of the car. When I pressed the salesman, he told me that the car had been in a rear end accident that had been repaired, but the rear wheel bearings were not replaced and became noisy soon after the repair. I was appalled. what is the point of giving test drives in defective vehicles that will make the customer run away?

madness
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