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Old 15th August 2011, 03:51   #1
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Arrow Finally! “Driven!” & “Chosen a Diesel Sedan” – The VVS Magnum (Chevrolet Optra)

The (hopefully) interesting part starts in the next post.

Unofficial review/report of the Optra Magnum - Having written a few Test Drive reports on the forum I feel the urge to write one on the Optra Magnum too, at some point of time. Hope the mods don’t mind. There are reviews of many cars on the forum, however this one is missing. Also, given the life cycle of this car, one hardly expects it to get an official review. So will try to do the next best thing – an unofficial one.

Will post it in this thread itself.

Note to other Optra Magnum Owners: As I understand, some don’t end up writing a complete ownership report – either for paucity of time or for other reasons. However there may be some urge to share info and views about your cars. Please feel welcome to add your experienced with your Magnums here. Just allow me a few days to complete my initial report. Thanks.

@Mods: In case the above seems inappropriate, please let us know. My thoughts are, that it may add to the information available on the forum and should help readers. Also am dividing the report into various sections for ease of reading, to allow liking to specific sections of this longish report and to make it easier to quote parts of it. Just in case you feel it would be better to merge the posts, please do so. Sorry for the botheration, if any.

Pictures have not been added yet, as it has been raining in Delhi and the car was quite dirty whenever I thought of taking pictures. Well, it is nothing special, just the regular Optra Magnum we have been seeing for a few years now – nothing really different about this one, so it doesn’t really ‘need’ pictures. But sometime, the camera bug may bite me!

In case you aren’t much into cricket, you may want to skip to the next section, however without an understanding of the VVS in the title. Also, this is not in any specific context of the current Ind-Eng series, but far more general.

Last edited by Rehaan : 22nd November 2011 at 13:13. Reason: Thread re-opened on request.
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Old 15th August 2011, 03:53   #2
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Default Re: Finally! - “Driven!” & “Chosen a Spacious Diesel Sedan” – The VVS Magnum

He hit the ball hard – it went across the ropes.
Yet again.
Time and again.
He raised his bat to applauding crowds.
He looked good.
Sold everything from cereals to ‘soda’ – made a lot from media attention.

On the 22 yards again.
But this time there is a cordon to take care of that nick of the bat – 3 slips, Gully, Backward Point, also a Backward Short Leg to latch on to the nick of the bouncer …
The wind is helping the swing.
The bowlers are in rhythm, are bowling quick and are on the money.
The bounce is uneven – one keeps awkwardly low, the other rises disconcertingly – almost aiming for one’s chin.
One nips in, the other flirts with the edge of the bat – missing it only just

It is time for Maggi, he thought.
Yes! I left it on the stove when I came in to bat.
No one is surviving in these conditions – so I should finish my innings by the time it is ready.

The boys of T20 wouldn’t do in Test cricket, they reckoned.
Then they marshaled him.
The old fashioned one.
The one who works with technique.
The one who isn’t glamorous.
One who isn’t seen in advertisements
One who doesn’t make too much money.
Still never seen complaining.
The ‘man’ of substance.

And he saved the day for India.
Yet again.
Again and again.

But not celebrated!
Still without advertisements or as they say “brand recall”

Yes of course, he is VVS Laxman,
The Very Very Special Laxman, as the Aussies called him, after getting a taste of him.

Am I the only one who sees a similarity between VVS Laxman and the Optra Magnum?

PS: I presume he puts Baryani on the stove – the kind which needs to be simmered overnight - no Maggi here!
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Old 15th August 2011, 03:56   #3
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Default Re: Finally! - “Driven!” & “Chosen a Spacious Diesel Sedan” – The VVS Magnum -(Optra)

Finally it was there before my eyes.
In flesh.
Almost too hard to believe.
Yes, one has had cars before. Many of them.
But this one - It seemed to play hide and seek.
It made a place for it in my heart and it teased me.
Being on the brink of purchasing one a few times - there always seemed to be a slip between the cup and the lip.
It made a guy who isn’t superstitious at all, to start crossing his fingers. And toes!

Finally, after having “Driven!” a few. Written about them. Having had a lot of talk sharing views, seeking and offering help in “Choosing a Spacious Diesel Sedan under 12L”, the VVS Mangum was there. There to be driven as one’s own.

Ah! What sublime pleasure.
Sitting, as if, on a moving sofa.
Without having to cramp one’s feet, resting my left elbow on the armrest, moving it at a paltry 1500 RPM, this one felt powerful. One which didn’t feel a need to announce one’s self, but still knowing it can conquer what is sets out to. Feeling the pleasure of driving at low RPM knowing and feeling the torque in store.

{Yes yes, I am going on like a fanboy! Please allow me to enjoy a few moments of bias (?) to enjoy sharing the joys. We do love our cars. And love, by definition, leads to bias.
And no, I won’t get into defining love now!!!}

Moving on.

Booking and Delivery Experience
Wouldn’t like to talk much about this one.
Well, as it turned out, a good friend knew the owner of a GM showroom rather well and he took care of many things. So it wasn’t a typical purchase experience. Wouldn’t like to share the bad things experienced in a friend’s friend’s setup. Also the good parts would anyway be attributed to the connection.

Going through someone like this has it’s pitfalls too – one can’t easily complain about things which seem iffy, especially if they are usually perceived as very small things. I turned a blind eye to some such issues and hope for the best now. The more important thing was that it was a June manufactured car (based on Torquedo’s decoding).

My special thanks to @Torquedo for his extensive work on decoding of VIN numbers of Optra/GM cars. Hope he joins the club soon. Very very soon.

The Surprise
Well, there was one on TBhp!
An overzealous post, which seemed to cast aspersions on my morality (me not giving back to the forum!), pretty much seemed to cross over forum etiquette of maintaining privacy, put me off a lot.
But then there have been some wonderful and warm exchanges on the forum too.

That post probably ruined the big surprise which was in store for a part of the family (which also intermittently checks T-Bhp) – I may never know

The people in the family may only have pretended to act surprised and may never tell me.
One plans this for months – and it goes the way it does.
I really couldn’t understand the provocation or motivation for it.
But the post has been deleted. Let us not keep dwelling on it and move forward to brighter moments on the forum.

The bigger surprise, after all those near buys, is that the Magnum has been bought.
Finally - I’d say yet again!

The surprise over, I can talk about it on the forum (on a great day for India – our Independence day )

Will now talk a bit about this car in general and return to my personal experience later.
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Old 15th August 2011, 03:57   #4
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Default Re: Finally! - “Driven!” & “Chosen a Spacious Diesel Sedan” – The VVS Magnum -(Optra)

Ah! so the curtain rises. Congratulations. Don't go stingy with the photographs, dirty, regular or whatever we are always eager to lap up as many photos as you can upload. All the best to you for your new ride and awaiting further additions to this thread of yours.

Last edited by khoj : 15th August 2011 at 04:00.
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Old 15th August 2011, 04:00   #5
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Default Optra Magnum TCDI - Specifications

Optra Magnum TCDI LS Diesel
(yeah, the cheaper one)

Specifications and other details
(based on Chevrolet’s website
Optra Magnum Diesel Specifications, Chevrolet Optra Magnum Diesel Technical Specifications)

Engine & Gearbox

Cylinder count 4
Volume (cm3) 1991
Max Power (PS) 121
Torque (Nm) 314
Kerb Weight (kg) 1370


Front McPherson Struts with Anti-roll Bar
Rear McPherson Struts with Anti-roll Bar
Front Shock Absorbers Twin Tube Gas Filled
Rear Shock Absorbers Twin Tube Gas Filled

Dimension (mm)

Length 4540
Width 1725
Height 1445
Wheelbase 2600

Wheel & Tyre

Tyres 195/60 R15
Wheels 38.1 cm Alloy


Front Ventilated Discs
Rear Discs

Some brochures mentioned the power as 125.5PS and Torque as 305Nm. This was possibly after BS4 changes in the car. (link to BS4 changes: http://www.chevrolet.co.in/content_d...about-bs4.html )When it was discussed on the forum, we didn’t find a good enough answer. Given that the new one drove well enough, we on the forum stopped trying to figure this one out.

Changes after BS4 implementation mentioned on Chevy website:
“Chevrolet Optra Magnum Diesel – New exhaust front pipe assembly and new ECM calibration.”
This may be the reason why the much talked about Turbo-lag is hardly felt. The turbo is felt, but there isn’t that sheer lack of power before the turbo kicks in.

Last edited by Poitive : 17th August 2011 at 17:00.
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Old 15th August 2011, 04:03   #6
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Default Optra Magnum - Some History

History of this car

Daewoo LeMans/Ceilo > Daewoo Nubira > Lacetti/Optra > Optra Magnum Diesel (India)

From: Daewoo LeMans - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Daewoo LeMans/Racer is a subcompact car, first manufactured by Daewoo Motors in South Korea between 1986 and 1994. It was replaced by the facelifted Daewoo Cielo—a car mechanically identical to the LeMans, differentiated only by its modified styling cues. The Cielo was subsequently replaced by the subcompact Daewoo Lanos and compact Nubira in 1997, except in some Central Asian markets for which production of the four-door continues in Uzbekistan.
The Cielo was made in India by DCM Daewoo Motors until the Korean Daewoo company went bankrupt. GM did not take over the Indian plant in Surajpur near Delhi and it was liquidated. Production in South Korea came to an end shortly after the 1996 introduction of the Daewoo Lanos, an original design.
From: Daewoo Nubira - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Daewoo Nubira is a compact car produced by South Korean automaker Daewoo Motors from 1997 to 2008.
The first generation car, model J100, was released to the market in 1997 as Daewoo Nubira, and it was sold until 1999. It was developed as a replacement for the GM T platform-based Daewoo Nexia and designed by Italian I.DE.A Institute. Engineering was carried out at Daewoo's now defunct Worthing Technical Centre in the United Kingdom. Sedan, hatchback and station wagon models were available.
In 2004, Nubira was replaced by Daewoo Lacetti (model J200), a new Pininfarina-designed sedan, was unveiled, and the expansion of the lineup followed by a presentation of the new station wagon in 2005. However, in some European market, the Nubira name was kept for the sedans and the station wagons.
From: Daewoo Lacetti - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Daewoo Lacetti is a compact car made by the South Korean automaker GM Daewoo since 2002. The first-generation Lacetti was available as a four-door sedan, a five-door hatchback or a five-door station wagon. The sedan and wagon were designed by Pininfarina, and the hatchback by Giorgetto Giugiaro.
The Lacetti is pretty much our very own Optra. (though the Magnum is an upgraded version)

Other names this sedan (Optra in general) is known by, in different markets:
Buick Excelle
Chevrolet Lacetti
Daewoo Nubira
Holden Viva
Suzuki Forenza

Last edited by Poitive : 17th August 2011 at 17:01.
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Old 15th August 2011, 04:05   #7
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Default Re: Finally! - “Driven!” & “Chosen a Spacious Diesel Sedan” – The VVS Magnum -(Optra)

From Optra to Optra Magnum Diesel

(There info below is based on what I remember, info which I gathered from various sources and is partly based on comments on forums (including TBhp) which is likely to be correct, but I can’t be too sure.)

After a few years (about 4-5 IIRC) of moderate success with the petrol model, Chevrolet “refurbished” the Optra. Well, they did quite a lot. They put in a 2litre diesel engine. To take care of the extra weight, they reinforced the chassis too. The front shape was similar to their premium hatch Chevy SRV. The interiors too were changed and IIRC were similar to the SRV. They probably improved the suspension too.
Others who have more info on this, please add to it.

This was a very different car underneath but that was hardly recognized. The reputation stuck on, even though GM had done a lot to make the maintenance cost much lesser.

The gem was hidden!

Well, it being hidden makes it good for a few, as it keeps it priced low.

(I have such high expectations from this car. Hope it lives upto them)

Last edited by Poitive : 17th August 2011 at 17:57.
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Old 15th August 2011, 04:12   #8
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Default Optra Magnum Diesel - A bit about the Egnine and the Designers of the car

The Heart by VM Motori

The engine is supposedly the same as the one on the following cars, though with different states of tune and with different turbo-chargers:
Chevrolet Captiva
Chevrolet Cruze (which really is the successor of the Optra)
Hyundai Tuscon
Hyundai Santa Fe (Current ACI mentions a bigger engine. I guess it has been upgraded now)
Hyundai Elantra
Hyundai Sonata

From what I gather, the engine used is RA 420 SOHC developed by VM Motori. GM/Daewoo and Hyundai were given licenses to produce them.

Links to engine details:
VM Motori S.p.A.
List of VM Motori engines - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From the VM Motori site:

RA 420 SOHC - 2000 cc - 4 Cyl. - 16 Valve

As manufacturers look to the future, the new turbocharged 2.0 litre 120 CV common rail has to be the first choice for those looking for a cost effective solution to the EU. 4 regulations.
This engine has one of the leading torque / CV figures for its class. Technical features include a belt-driven single overhead camshaft with four valves per cylinder, and a central vertical direct injector with a zero degree, narrow valve angle. Finger followers, actuating two valves at a time, control the valve aperture. The engine features exhaust gas recirculation through the cylinder head. Twin gear-driven balance shafts are fitted in the oil sump for additional refinement. The vacuum pump is fitted to the alternator and, for greater efficiency, the oil pump is a rotary vane type.
The maximum torque of 260 Nm means strong pick up. The latest common rail and multi-valve technology gives class-leading economy and driveability matched with compliance with current and future known emissions regulations.The further addition of an optional VGT turbocharger further increases the power output to 150 CV and torque to 280 Nm.
This engine is not currently produced by VM Motori but is produced under license by GM Daewoo and Hyundai M.C. in versions suitable to the respective applications.
Engine RA 420 SOHC
Displacement 1991 cc
Cylinders 4 in line
Valves 16
Injection Common rail CP1
Max power 110 kW/4000 rpm
Torque 310 Nm/2000 rpm
Weight 170 kg
Emissions EURO 4
Yes, some specs vary. I don’t know why. Maybe something to do with states of tune. Experts, please comment.

Some details about VM Motori
, which was founded in 1947

Source: VM Motori - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Detroit Diesel Corporation (DDC) bought VM Motori in 1995.
In 2000 the DDC was purchased by DaimlerChrysler AG.
In 2003 Penske Corporation purchased a 51% stake in VM Motori; in 2007 Penske bought the remaining 49% from DaimlerChrysler and subsequently sold 50% of it to General Motors.[1] As of 2007, both deals were awaiting European regulatory approval and the value of the deal was not known.
In September 2008, GAZ Group announced plans to purchase a 50% stake from Penske Corp.[2] but ultimately cancelled them in February 2009.[3] January 11, 2011 Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera published news that Fiat S.p.A. is about to purchase 50% stake from Penske.[4] In February 11 Fiat Powertrain Technologies confirmed it has bought the 50 percent stake.[5]
Some interesting notes about VM Motori

During the 1980s British Leyland chose VM engines as the smoothest, most petrol-like units available for diesel models of their Range Rover and Rover SD1; the choice continued with the later Rover 800.
In 1995, when OEM automotive sales accounted for 75% of income. A major deal with Chrysler saw agreements to supply engines for their Jeep Cherokee and Voyager (2.5-litre) models.
GM Daewoo has licensed the 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre common rail engine designs, and built a dedicated engine plant, which started production 2006. The 2.0 L diesel is used in the Chevrolet Captiva/Opel Antara/Daewoo Winstrom, the Chevrolet Optra/Daewoo Lacetti, the Chevrolet Cruze and the Chevrolet Epica/Daewoo Tosca.
In January 2011, VM Motori launched its brand new engine 3.0L V6. With 241 CV and 550 N·m (410 lb·ft) the A630 is among the best diesel engines in its class. As result of the collaboration with Fiat Powertrain Technologies the engine features the Multijet2 technology for improved performance, fuel economy and NVH. The first application of the 3.0L V6 is the 2011MY Grand Cherokee

A bit about the designers of this car


Founded as Società anonima Carrozzeria Pinin Farina in 1930 by automobile designer and builder Battista "Pinin" Farina, Pininfarina has been employed by a wide variety of high-end automobile manufacturers, including Ferrari, Maserati, Rolls-Royce, Cadillac, Jaguar, Volvo, Alfa Romeo, and Lancia. It also has designed trams in France, high-speed trains in Holland, and trolleys in the USA. Since the 1980s Pininfarina has been consulted on industrial and interior design.
Pininfarina Sverige AB in Uddevalla, Sweden, was established in 2003 as a joint venture (JV) between Volvo Cars and Pininfarina. The JV is owned 60% by Pininfarina and 40% by Volvo.
Some manufacturers this company has worked for:
Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Rolls Royce, Maserati and hold your breath- Tata Motors!
So, this car is in good company. No wonder, the ergonomics are so good.

Giugiaro was named Car Designer of the Century 1999 and inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2002.[1]
In addition to cars, Giugiaro has designed camera bodies for Nikon, computer prototypes for Apple, Navigation promenade of Porto Santo Stefano and even developed a new pasta shape "Marille"[2], as well as office furniture for Okamura[disambiguation needed].
Some car manufacturers this Italian manufacturer has worked for:
Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Bugatti, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, Maserati.
Again, some very good company. BTW was surprised to see Maruti SX4 in the list too!!

The Chevrolet Lacetti was picked as the new "reasonably-priced car" in Top Gear's "Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car"[3]
Did I hear someone say-
We have had enough about the history blah. Let us get to 'your' experience?

Here you go!

Last edited by Poitive : 17th August 2011 at 18:00. Reason: Note on Santa Fe, Merging posts
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Old 15th August 2011, 04:16   #9
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Default Re: Finally! - “Driven!” & “Chosen a Spacious Diesel Sedan” – The VVS Magnum -(Optra)

Now, back to my experience

So, it was time to get a new car. I quite love such periods in life. Looking forward to driving a new machine. To learn a bit more about it – more by driving it. Learning to love the car for what it is, than what it is not. To enjoy the nuances it offers. To learn to enjoy it ‘despite’. To feel it. To experience it. To get joy from some quirks it has. To just enjoy the idea of a new car.

This one was a simple choice. Was looking for a diesel car. Was looking at a functional purchase. By that I mean, that one didn’t want to spend much and still wanted basic comfort of commuting. Over time, it has seemed to me that getting pleasure out of the car one has, is a bit of an art. An art I was supposedly learning. Have even enjoyed a Maruti 800 immensely; and that too with no significant modification.

So the simple choice was to go in for a Manza.
Nothing in around that price range was as spacious.
A boot was quite a need, so it had to be a sedan.
It was very good bang for buck.
I needed a diesel car.
So it was almost the end of the story.

Before I proceed, let me put down my needs from the car in a more systematic manner.

My purchase criteria
  • Didn’t want to spend needlessly.
  • A boot was highly desirable. Almost a necessity. Hence only looking at sedans.
  • Given my high usage, it had to be a diesel.
  • Another reason to go for a diesel was that I prefer to have power in lower RPM’s.
  • The car was to be largely used by me - alone or with one more person. Am 6’ and of biggish build.
  • A comfortable cabin was or paramount importance for me, as I believe it should be. We spend time on the seats and in the cabin. If that is not comfortable, most other things tend to matter much lesser IMO.
  • An airy cabin was very much desirable.
  • Inexpensive and assured A.S.S. was important to me. Couldn’t fathom the idea of being without wheels.
  • Also preferred a cabin in which I could be chauffeured, in case needed.
  • Gizmos weren’t of much importance to me.
  • Often like heavy cars, for the sense of stability they provide. A sense of stability and having good brakes was of importance.
  • Was in no hurry to sell the car, so resale value was of much lesser importance.
  • The decision was largely to be taken by me, though others in the family had the power to simply veto anything I said, without assigning much reason.
  • Being enjoyable to drive was a bonus
  • (I talked a bit about how this seemed to be a bit of an art, above).
It was simple - Manza was the car for me.

But then in typical 70’s movie style, there was a big twist in the tale – No, I wasn’t separated from my family in “Nauchandi ka Mela”!
I happened to read an advertisement of the Optra Magnum
(Believe it or not - they do advertise, however seldom it might be)

So, I went in for a Test Drive. The showroom didn’t have one, the staff was hardly interested. I pushed and pushed and managed to check one which had come for repairs. Was an old, almost unkempt Optra. I put that behind me and after a few days, went into another showroom.

Everything was in order this time. The staff was very courteous, eager to please, knew about the car, but spoke little. The car was available for Test Driving! Seemed quite well kept.


So, I did Test Drive the Optra Magnum Diesel
And with it went all the simplicity.

I was totally smitten by this car.
It talked to me.
Does anyone relate to cars talking to you?
Anyway, this one told me – Buy me. I will keep you happy.
And that was within the first two minutes of starting it.

I was a lost guy. Loved the car. Absolutely.

But was I ready to buy a car based on just these few minutes and what my heart told me?
I was supposed to be a ‘sensible guy’, after all. (in my heart, I always doubted that though!)

One part of me really didn’t want to go beyond the 7L or so OTR that the Manza was available for. So tried to forget the TD and remain with the Manza. But can one forget what one loves so easily?

I found myself thinking and talking of this car oftener.
Now to cut a long story short, I took another long TD, which only reiterated my belief that this was a gem of a car. It being available for about 9L OTR seemed too good to be true. And usually something that seems too good to be true, is just that – too good to be true – eventually leading to regrets later. But was I going to let go of this so easily? Of course not!

Were there some other cars in contention too?
How did it go from there?

Taking thoughts further, I thought that if I actually was going to spend about 9L or so, why not look at all the cars upto say 10L or so, make sure which one fits me best and then proceed.

Test drives of the SX4, Fiat Linea, Vento followed. The Manza of course. The big concern (besides more $$) was if parts of the Optra Magnum would be available over the years and if it being discontinued is going to have an effect on the availability. A.S.S. costs were also to be borne on mind. One didn’t want Skoda like experiences. Not at all.

So I became a member of this wonderful community at T-Bhp and started this thread enquiring about if the Optra was to be discontinued and related concerns and seeking opinions and sharing mine. The thread eventually became a much more general thread for anyone looking for a diesel sedan upto 12L (talked about on page 11, formally announced on page 15)
Link: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/sedans...-upto-12l.html (Choosing a Spacious Diesel Sedan upto 12L)

Since I had already taken Test Drives of the cars in consideration, thought they should be a part of the TD section too and mentioned this to the mods, who asked me to start another thread to share those experiences with forum members to benefit from. That started the “Driven!” thread.
Link: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/test-d...iesta-pg5.html (Driven! Vento, Optra, Linea, SX4, Manza. EDIT: Fluidic Verna (pg4), New Fiesta (Pg5))

Reports of TD of the Fluidic Verna and the New Ford Fiesta were added to it later. Almost all these reports are quoted in the post below, as a part of the cars I checked out.

More details about TD experiences and other thoughts in the next post

Thank you guys, especially ones who contributed in the first few pages of those threads in building up enough confidence to buy this car, which doesn’t seem to sell much (depends on how one sees it).

A special thanks to all those who put up their ownership reports
. They were useful in knowing of the real world long term experience with the car. Would like to specifically mention a few posts which influenced me later.

Last edited by Poitive : 17th August 2011 at 17:32. Reason: Merging and moving posts to create more space towards the end, updating post title
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Old 15th August 2011, 04:21   #10
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Default Experiences and thoughts on Other Cars Considered. Also on the Optra Magnum

Experiences and thoughts on Other Cars Considered - Also on the Optra Magnum

(those who have been a part of the Choosing and Driven! threads may want to skip the quoted parts of this section)

To make it simpler for readers, am copying comments from my posts on on other cars checked from the following threads I had started:

thread: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/sedans...-upto-12l.html (Choosing a Spacious Diesel Sedan upto 12L)
Driven! thread: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/test-d...iesta-pg5.html (Driven! Vento, Optra, Linea, SX4, Manza. EDIT: Fluidic Verna (pg4), New Fiesta (Pg5))

Where the posts aren't in the first few posts in either of the threads, links have been provided.

No offense is meant to people who own or like any of these vehicles. These were just my personal opinions based on my needs and wants.

The Volkswagen Vento

From the Choosing thread

- Very Good to drive, but not brilliant.

-Found it pretty cramped. Even more so in the rear seat. Could not even sit straight!!! Ingress and Egress was not convenient for a tall guy. (Almost ruled out due to this)

-Cabin didn't feel ariy and felt physically and visually cramped.

- Pretty much like a hatch with a boot.

- Maintenance costs unknown.

- Seems to have a good image.

Pretty much ruled out because I can't even sit straight (am 6') in the back seat. The ingress and egress was terrible too.
From the Driven! thread


The showroom staff was neatly presented. Formally and Well dressed. Seemed that if one let them, they would take forever to attend to you. Pressed a bit to get things moving.

Soon was in the Vento HL (even tough I was really only considering the TL version). The first thing that struck me was the somewhat cramped feeling in the cabin. The windscreen started pretty high. I personally like airy cabins. This surely wasn't one. The dark interiors didn't help any. The space on offer was also strictly moderate. Good sitting posture though.

The cabin design felt sedate. No brilliance here - designed to please all and offend none, is what I thought. Have read people apprecaiting the quality of the interiors and plastics etc. I didn't find anything special at all. To me, it didn't have a premium feel.

The car felt easy to drive. Not too large. Nimble enough for the city. The wide power band only made it easier to drive. Vibrations did filter into the cabin though. Liked the power delivery of the car, however didn't feel as smooth as I would have liked it. The suspension was a bit on the stiffer side. The car handled pretty well. There was a pretty assured feeling when one swerved the car to overtake. Felt quite composed at high speeds.

On returning back to the showroom, I tried sitting on the rear seat. I was aghast. I could not even sit straight on the rear seat (am 6'). Am not talking about how much space between my head and the ceiling. I simply could not sit straight! The headroom was that bad. The ingress and egress from the rear seat was terrible. The front was only a bit better.

Overall was a nice car to drive. Not brilliant. Neither the handling. Nor the ride. The cabin was not at all to my liking. A lot of people may buy this because of the VW badge. Or for the overall well rounded nature.

It didn't seem my cup of tea. Surely not a car for tall people.

Fiat Linea

From the Choosing thread


- Good fun to drive. Good Handling. A bit bumpy.

- The engine vibrations did seem to come through into the cabin and steering.

- Cabin gave a cramped 'feeling'. Attractive looking dash, however overly done up, but nothing one can't live with.

- Admiration guaranteed! Except for the front, looks like a stunner. Even the inside.

- After Sales from Tata, which seems to give Fiat a step motherly treatment. Tata anyway not known to be too good with A.S.S.

- Moderately good image.

Under consideration, but wonder if it is worth the extra money vis-a-viz a Manza which provides a lot more space
From the Driven! thread

Have always admired this car from the rear and side. Especially in the off-white and maroon/wine colors. To me, the front of the car only looked moderate, at best. The design flair didn't carry on to the front, but we usually end up seeing cars a lot more from the back than from the front.

Was a bit of a chore to get the showroom for a test drive. Finally managed it. The ingress was easy. Liked the stance of the car. The cabin and dash seemed to be overtly modern. Had mixed feelings about whether I liked it or not. I think I quite liked the look of it, though not the comfort levels. Like in many modern cars the central console was wide and a bit intrusive into the knee space; but that may change a lot from person to person, with one's built, sitting posture, seat adjustment etc. Overall the cabin was quite comfortable. Probably more than the Vento. Personally I wanted even more space. A lot more (mind was onto the Manza now).

The engine was not as silent as I had expected, but that may only have been an issue with my expectations. To start with, the car seemed a tad underpowered, but as one went to higher RPM's things changed quite radically. The engine felt alive (turbo in action). Getting onto more open roads and the fun started. One felt a connection with the car. Maybe a bit too much - the vibrations etc. did filter in quite a lot, however one also had a better feel of the road and how the car was interacting with it. A driver's car, is what I thought. The bumps did filter into the car quite a lot. The steering was precise. One felt in control. As the speeds increased, the sense of control significantly diminished. The gear changes were quite frequent.

Overall seemed like a very good driver's car. May tire you if you drive long as the the ride was only moderate and the vibrations did filter in significantly. But if you like to drive hard, I expect you would have a very satisfying experience.

Don't remember the rear seat experience, but don't think it was something too bad, otherwise I would have remembered it.

PS: The showroom staff was not presented well and didn't seem too professional either. However, since they were lesser "trained" they would share more of what they knew about the car, if one was friendly.

Tata Manza

From the Choosing thread

- Space, Space, Space! Loved the space inside the cabin. VERY comfortable.

- Supposed to be cheap to maintain.

- After Sales Service is suspect. Not known for it's reliablity.

- Fairly good driving experience. The vibrations, though a huge improvement over the Indigo, did come through into the cabin and on the steering.

- Frequent gear changes needed.

- Tata vehicles have a poor image (the Dilli-wala in me coming forward now!). Don't particularly fancy the idea of being in a Tata.

- Is the "logical" from the head choice car, however doesn't appeal to the heart at all.

This has been the base choice, but am looking for better options and the Tata tag isn't something I look forward to.
From the Driven! thread

Before the test drives, this was the car on mind - the base choice. Had taken two different TD's of this. Am merging the info. and impressions together here.

The showroom staff again had a bit of a desi demeanor. Not too formal or trying to be high brow and not coming out as friendly semi-professional chaps. Quite like what one would expect from Tata.

Contrary to many, I have liked how this car looks from the back. If we can put the desi Tata name etc and associated biases aside, it did look rather good and a segment or so higher to me. Things change as one moved to the side. The part from the A pillar and behind looks rather nice. The front - well, it is as if it was plucked from a segment or two lower and fixed there . One the whole, I quite like how this car looks from the outside.

On entering the car, was quite impressed with the improvement Tata has made. Very impressed with the first look, probably because I had much lower expectations. On a closer look, there were some parts which were terrible in finish and appearance. The foot room was lesser than in the Older Indigo. Other than that, it felt very very spacious. The dash was quite pleasing. Not too dramatic like the Linea (or the New Fiesta), but simple and clean. The ICE display could have been a lot better though.

The seats were very comfortable. Lot of space. To me, it has seemed that many people don't really given enough significance to the sitting comfort in a car and worry too much about the gizmos and figures etc. No offense meant to anyone, but if one is sitting uncomfortably, one can't really enjoy the experience. But maybe that is just me.

The ingress and egress was very easy too. The doors opened wide, from what I recollect.

The driving experience to start with was a bit like the Linea (no surprise here). On revving a bit harder, the differences started to come out. It was not as sharp in handling. The suspension was a bit softer. Went on to drive it more like a normal work day (read not hard). Surprisingly it felt like a better car to be in than the Linea and even the Vento. A better day to day commuter. Quite easy to drive, though with more gear changes than one would have liked (the Vento scores here with the 1.6 engine).

I tried driving it a bit hard again and rushed a bit into corners. (Could try it only a bit, as the TD's were quite short). I was impressed. It was no whimp. Seemed like a good balance - a car good for everyday driving, and one which could be pushed a bit for enthusiastic driving, even though it wasn't really built for it.

What I really did miss was the space around the ABC pedals - the deal pedal, or the space to keep one's left foot. I liked the heavy body metal feel of the car. A lot of metal, especially for the price and it is still meant to be frugal. Was built closer to the American/European cars than the Jap/Korean ones.

All in all, it was a very good car with space to set up a SEZ , but needed frequent gear changes, which made it a tad bothersome to drive.

After the TD too, it remained a favorite. (more on the purchase dilemmas is on the thread linked in the first post).

Guys, Had Test driven the Manza Elan again. The opinions weren't really too different from before. Here is what I felt and observed:

- Was very spacious, however the room for feet was a bit lesser than the older Indigo. Guess it is to do with the Modern design which was discussed in earlier posts.
- Seats were comfortable. Ample legroom. Fairly good knee room (term explained in an earlier post).
- Easy ingress/egress.
- The dash didn't really come onto one's face like it does in some of the Modern cars. The cabin felt quite airy. The interior look was quite pleasing.
(on issues as subjective as the looks etc, I suspect that many of us are pretty biased against the Desi cars and are taken in a bit by the European ones)
- The overall finish was quite good but rather inconsistent. The finish on the AC vents seemed like from an era gone by; the finish of the dash was very very good (keeping the bias of it being a TATA aside)
- After some adjustments, the audio system sounded fairly good. The display, however didn't seem refined.
- The ride was pretty good. Absorbed the bumps quite well with a moderately soft suspension. Not the kind to be cornered too hard, however seemed to handle a bit better than the Optra (not too sure of this).
- The engine felt to rev quite freely. However it seemed to make a lot of noise and seemed very stretched when one revved it hard (some may like that sound)
-Gears had to be changed very frequently to keep the car suitable pepped up.
- The vibrations would very well be felt in the cabin and steering, quite like the Linea and SX4 (the other cars I TD with the same engine).
- If the car had a bigger engine, it may have been a wonderful car to be in. Still a huge improvement over the older Indigo.

Wonder if a Manza would sell well, if it was say about 60-80k more expensive (would put it closer to Vento bandwidth) and came with a much smoother and bigger engine. A moot thought though.

Whenever I am behind a Manza, I do like how it looks from the back. If one didn't know that it was our very own desi Manza, one would probably mistake it for a car a segment or two higher. Especially in the off-white/cream colour. Looks quite good even from the rear 3/4 angle. However as one starts to see the car as a whole and from the front, it seems that the rear half is from a segment higher, the front from a segment lower (in terms of size). But on the whole, if one removes the desi bias, it looks fairly good.

All in all this car seemed VERY good value for money.

Both, the Manza and Optra make a strong case for themselves. The purchase is a while away. It may eventually just boil down to how much moolah one is open to spending at that point.

Maruti SX4 Deisel

From the Choosing thread

- A very practical choice on many fronts.

- Spacious cabin. Easy ingress and egress.

- Don't like the styling of the car on the whole, but nothing I can't live with.

- Engine seems underpowered (1248cc for a large car). May not last the distance. I mean, I expect to keep the car for about 1.5L kms.

- Vibrations do come into the cabin.

- Seems to need a lot of gear changes, which may make city driving a pain.

- The A pillar Blind Spot is a HUGE bother. May be a big issue on hilly roads. Possibly enough to get one into an accident. It makes me wonder if it is prudent to even consider this car, given this issue. Am very seriously concerned about it.

- If one can ignore the problems the A pillar and vision problems it causes, it may be another 'logical-from the head' choice.

A serious choice, however wonder if it it worth the extra bucks over a Manza, with only minor benefits of a slightly better image and probably better reliability, however may not be as rugged. The A-Pillar issue is a serious hindrance to my mind.
From the Driven! thread

When the SX4 was introduced, I had liked it's robust looks. When I first sat in it and drove it then, it felt like a Corolla on a budget, though good only for 4 people. Over the years the design didn't seem to aga well. It started looking a bit too bland and lacked any sense of design flair. (No offense meant to anyone here. Just my perceptions)

The showroom staff was rather professional. Was a good balance between the VW and the Tata/Fiat lot. They guy had instructions only for very short test drives, so in the middle of the TD, had to speak to his senior to allow a TD a bit more than just 2-3 kms. (was eventually about 10 kms, I think).

Ingress and Egress from the car was excellent thanks to it's height. No Esteem like dramas here!

The cabin was spacious. At first look, seemed even bigger than the Manza, but later seemed about as big. The rear bench of the Manza was a lot better suited for 3 people though. The console was sedate, without being boring. Overall a nice feel, but a few minutes in the cabin, and it feels a bit less airy. The weird A pillar design starts to bother.

Without going into the stats, the SX4 always seemed like a fairly big car to me to run on a 1250cc engine. Had pretty low expectations on how it may drive. To my surprise, it didn't feel as scuffed-in-the-neck as I had imagined. The engine revved quite freely. Felt adequate. Well almost. After a few minutes, one realized that one was changing gears a bit too often, to keep the car on boil. It is an issue with all the 1.3MJD sedans, it seems. Blame the biggish bodies on a small engine. Like the other MJD sedans, the vibrations did come into the cabin here too. Probably a bit lesser.

It wasn't as sharp to handle as the Linea - no way. Didn't try too much with the car. Putting it in another way- to drive, it felt a bit like a bigger brother of the Manza. Fairly neutral on most aspects. Designed to have a broad base of customers.

A special mention - The blind spot because of the A pillar design was a very big hindrance, with my driving style. Driving this on winding hill roads made me sweat!

The built quality felt somewhere midway between the typical Jap/Korean and the European/American ones. A refined and slightly lighter Tata

The Maruti peace of mind is what may attract people to this one.

I was left wondering if I would want to spend about 1-1.5L extra to move from the Manza to this with very little benefit.
Fiesta Classic
From the Choosing thread

- Had taken a test drive long back and remember it being very cramped in front. Enough to rule it out. Remember it having a gem of a deisel engine though.

Too cramped, even in the front to be seriously considered.
Note: After all the good talk about this car on the forum, I did take another TD of it. It did feel cramped enough for me for it not to be seriously considered.

Hyundai Verna (Old)
From the Choosing thread

-Had sat in it when it was launched. Found the cabin pretty much cramped. Was surprised that the old accent had more space.

Again too cramped to be seriously considered.
Hyundai Verna (Fluidic) - 1.6SX

From the Choosing thread
(Link: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/sedans...ml#post2413187 (Choosing a Spacious Diesel Sedan upto 12L) )

Guys, Finally managed to TD the above. Have put a writeup in the Driven! thread in the following link:

Am listing things point wise, as was done in the first few posts of this thread, though I think the writeup above will make for better reading.

- Very smooth engine. Very very petrol like, which I think would be one of the bigger factors for it's success (besides the looks and gizmos).

- Exteriors: Excellent looks from the rear. Good from the side. Moderate from the front (Just my opinion).

- Cabin in the front: There is a feel-good factor. Good finish; especially in the beige part. Fabric could have been better. Front seats very comfortable (though not Optra class at all). Ample knee room too. The left leg sits very well against the console for my body and driving position (was particularly bad in the Fiesta Classic). The dash was very pleasing. Well designed.

- Cabin at the rear: The much talked about lack of under thigh support was bothersome, but not too much. Visually it was EXTREMELY cramped (reminded me of the Swift Dzire). Seats were low (changed in the Indian model). Front seats towered, blocking all view even for a 6' person. The windows started high. Also tapered down from top. The rear was anything but airy

- There was ample headroom. Even at the back (lowered seats helped). Legroom was good. One 6' person behind another possible with acceptable comfort.

- Doors opened wide and ingress/egress was easy in the front. Quite so at the rear too.

- Very easy to drive car. Effortless pickup. Smooth quiet engine (probably even a bit better than the Optra). Gear changes were not frequent, unlike the 1.3MJDs. Almost no lag.

- Low/moderate speed ride was quite good, but not even close to the Optra. At high speeds was OK in the front and a bit too bouncy at the rear. Almost uncomfortable at the rear.

- Felt comfortable at moderate speeds, but as one went to higher speeds the comfort reduced. Was not confidence inspiring. At the rear was almost scary (more in the writeup linked above).

- The steering was extremely light. Game like. Good for everyday city driving. Not for anyone who even gets close to trying the car's limits.

- Brakes didn't have any bite, despite the all 4 disc. But they may be effective. Don't go by my word here.

- Side mirrors very well worked out. Due to the high boot, the rear view is pretty narrow from within the cabin (a rear view camera is provided)

Seems like a BRILLIANT car for someone who drives largely in the city or doesn't push the car much and wants a petrol like experience at diesels running costs.

Would NOT recommend it to anyone who doesn't meet the above criteria or intends to use the rear bench extensively. The experience in front is totally different from the experience at the rear.

The Sales Guy’s eyes popped out !!!!!
He was in the TD car with me, a kilometer away from the showroom and all I asked was a longer Test Drive!

Getting approvals from a ‘Sarkari department’ seemed simpler than getting a longer TD on the Verna (there at least we know what works!). After a million calls, before the TD started and then to get a 15 minutes wait on the road for a longer one, I finally was on the approx. 10km TD. But well, at-least I got a descent drive, when some people are complaining of getting one at all, or being shown sign boards of the 6 months waiting. BTW, I was told that the waiting is 4-6 months. That they are saying 6 months, but hope and expect that it would get delivered in 4.

Starting the TD

The doors opened wide. Ingress into the driver’s seat was easy. The seat seemed quite comfortable for my large 6’frame. It was amongst the newer seats which go around your body to an extent. Usually such seats are more comfortable for a major (read people with average body sizes) part of users. For others, they are usually worse than the flatter seats. But for such a seat it was rather comfortable. After spending some time in the car, it felt less easy to be with. Less conducive to changing one’s position over longer drives. Even the rear seats felt more comfortable to start with than they did later.

The dash was pleasing. Modern, without being in one’s face. Not protruding towards you in a big way, not overly ‘designed’, nor too basic (like the Optra). I liked it a lot. The upper half of the greyish dotted material was not of top notch quality, but still quite good. The finish of the lower beige part was excellent. One thing that I really appreciated that, one’s left leg could sit very comfortably against the central console. It adds a lot to my comfort and it being poorly designed is a major put off for me in many cars.

Had seen the car from the outside a few times before. Love it from the back. Quite good from the side and I never really liked it much from the front. Those impressions didn’t change.

The Secret is out!

Why is this car doing so well? Besides the gadgets and looks the other predominant reason for me was how it was to drive – for the average driver, the experience would be as close to a Petrol as one could get on Diesel car. The average ‘Ajay’ who is used to a petrol and looks to a diesel for economy with a minimal change in driving style should be very satisfied.

Now for the rest of the drive

There was almost no lag felt. About as quiet as a petrol (the car was warmed up before I entered it). Comparable, or maybe even a tad better than the Optra. The power delivery was very linear and smooth. We went through some crowded roads. I was driving this for the first time, but it immediately felt comfortable. As if one knew the car. No stress at all. Moving further we got onto some pretty open roads. Time to floor. Again, felt very much like a petrol! It easily climbed to high speeds. Effortless. Smooth. Plain.

As stated by several people, the steering felt extremely light. Pretty much like a game. No feedback at all. Ideal for most drivers in the city. Not for anyone who gets even somewhat close to trying the car’s limits. In most cars, I feel that over time one gets to know the car enough to manage with lesser feedback and still feel confident. With this one I was very unsure if one ever would.

On higher speeds I felt a bit uneasy. It didn’t feel as planted as I would have liked it to be. It wasn’t scary, but wasn’t confidence inspiring either. Would much rather be in an Linea or an Optra for high speed confidence. The high speed ride could hardly be checked as most of the roads were very smooth. On lower speeds the ride felt only moderate. Not bad at all, but nowhere even close to the Optra (which may sell at a lesser price, but really is from a higher segment).

The brakes though effective didn’t have bite. They didn’t make me feel too secure, despite being all four disks. But that may only be a perception based on a few minutes with the car. Spending time with it and getting to know it better, I expect, would change that perception.

All this while I was on the driver’s seat. The cabin had a feel good factor, though the fabric could have been better and wasn’t to my liking. Leather/PU would look a lot better IMO. It was a simple car to drive around. Didn't need frequent gear changes, unlike the 1.3MJD's. The rear camera though glitzy, had limited use in the daytime for someone like me. I would much rather bank on the regular 3 mirrors. It would have use for objects lower down (potholes, stones etc) though. I must aad here that the Side View Mirrors were excellent. Well shaped and with the right curvature to give a suitable field of view. Very impressed with those.

About 3 kms before the showroom, I moved to the rear seat. The under thigh support, as mentioned by many wasn’t good, but it didn’t bother me too much. There was sufficient headroom too. The feet could go between the front seat easily. The legroom was quite good as well. Could seat one 6’ person behind another with just about acceptable comfort. No complaints on these fronts.

What was extremely bothersome in the rear seat was the feeling that one was in a prison cell. The seat of the Indian model is lower (hence more headroom and lesser under-thigh support). Consequently one is sitting lower with the tall front seats blocking all view even for a 6’ guy. The windows started pretty high and were tapered off from the top (coupe like styling). It gave a feeling of being walled in and being quite disconnected with one’s surroundings. While it might suit a few, who want to sit and work in the rear seat with minimal distraction, I guess most would be unhappy. If I was to be chauffer driven (or have others in the family drive me) and I was to sit in the rear seat, I would not touch this car with a barge pole.

As the Sales guys in front yapped away on phone and drive upto 3 digit figures, I felt extremely uncomfortable with the ride. I felt like I was on some ride in an amusement park – going all over the place. I would not really be comfortable above 80kmph or so in the rear seat. But that figure would change a lot from person to person; also with more time with the car. A slight brake to maneuver the car while on a slightly curved road almost had my heart in my mouth.

It is amazing how the cabin experience can change so much from front to rear. Also the ride experience.

Closing thoughts

All in all, for a lot of people it would be a wonderful car. If one is not much into driving hard and taking a car close to it’s limits, and wants a city commuter with relatively sedate highway drives this may be the car.

For anyone enthusiastic and looking for more from one’s car, or for someone who is to spend time on the rear bench – make sure you drive it long enough before taking the plunge – proceed with caution.

Note: Have exaggerated the odd thing in the write-up above (amusement part, prison cell etc.) just to make it for better reading. No offense meant to anyone, especially people who like this car. I have only tried to share my thoughts and experience with this car in an honest and balanced way.

New Ford Fiesta

From the NFF thread, which was before test drives were started.
Also copied in the Driven! thread

(Link: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/test-d...ml#post2441565 (Driven! Vento, Optra, Linea, SX4, Manza. EDIT: Fluidic Verna (pg4), New Fiesta (Pg5)) )

Seen and felt – The New Fiesta

Happened to be near a Ford showroom and dropped in to have a peep at the New Ford Fiesta. Spent a few minutes with it. A lot of things stated below may be personal and for my body size (am 6’ and biggishly built); some things like looks etc are anyway personal. No offence meant to anyone.

Thoughts and observations:
  • Looks from front : Quite handsome. Prefer it to the Fluidic Verna from the front.
  • Looks from the rear: Bulky. Too much metal without enough breaks. But well, it may just be a matter of getting used to things (we did get used to the Santro, didn’t we?)
  • Side and overall : Quite good. Simple. Not as much attention seeking as the Fluidic. May have a longer lasting appeal.
  • Ingress and Egress was quite easy.
  • The dash was a bit in your face. Too many buttons. Cluttered and not immediately easy to live with. But what the heck, after a few months, we all get a bit too used to the dash and rarely even notice it (unless it is exceptionally good or exceptionally bad). Not particularly impressed with the design of the dash.
  • The finish of the dash was pretty ordinary. Nothing to complain at all. Nothing to write home about either. The Fluidic was way better.
  • The steering felt quite good to hold. Sporty feel.
  • Seats were the kind which wrap around you. Wrap around even more than the Fluidic. They give you a sporty feel and will hold you if you try to test if this one is on rails. But over long journeys (say 7-10 hours), it may not be too comfortable, as it is not contusive to changing sitting position. There is really only one right position to sit and one can’t sit like that over long journeys. Such seats are also usually suitable only for a certain size of body structure. They were quite small for me and I didn’t fit well into them. Though, after some more time in the seat, it felt significantly better, though still not good enough for me.
  • The seatwas height adjustable and it took a while to find a comfortable sitting position. As soon as I was physically comfortable with the seat, I realized that I was sitting pretty high up (the seat height also has an effect on the angle of the seat base). The upper end of the windscreen was very much in my eye-line. I had to lower the seat for this reason and then it became physically a bit uncomfortable. But overall was not bad at all. Not what the doc ordered, but surely not a deal breaker either. It anyway changes a lot based on one's body.
  • The lever to change the recline is a knob. Allows a more graded and precise recline; but in the Maruti 800 days, it was something one was weary of, as they would tend to break with pressure, and that was very risky. Hope these ones are better. Far better.
  • There was ample knee room and the console wasn’t obtrusive. Not as comfortable for the left leg as the Fluidic was, but comfortable enough.
  • There was a dead pedal like space, without the rubber one expects in a dead pedal. It wasn’t as wide as one would want. Overall the foot well was just about adequate, but significantly better than the Manza (the only gripe with Manza’s space was with the cramped footwell). IMO dead pedals are a must. Still don’t understand why it is not considered an essential while designing the car.
  • The OVRM control didn’t feel intuitive, but is a very minor point, as one should get used to it over time.
  • The width of the car felt just about adequate in front.
  • In the rear, the seat was a lot better than the Fluidic. But if you try to carry three adults, you will have to screen them for size! LOL. Unhappy seating for three for longer journeys. Really is a two seater (and a kid) bench. The console extended a bit to far back intruding into the rear bench's foot-room making seating three an even bigger pain.
  • It is by no means as claustrophobic as the Fluidic Verna.
  • The headroom was only about adequate at the rear. The car hitting an unexpected hump may mean my head hitting the ceiling, which would happen in many cars. The headroom was more than the Vento (bear in mind that this is beyond just the measurement figures – how the seats and their recline etc are designed also play a role).
  • One 6’ person behind the another? No! Just adequate for a 5’10” behind a 5’10 IMO. Adequate, not comfortable. Two 5'9" should be comfortable.
  • The boot though deep and quite wide had a pretty narrow opening – not suited to put those biggish suitcases vertically. One can only stack them one over the other and put other stuff around them. Quite a waste of space, in a sense. And we didn’t even get a beautiful looking rear end to justify this.
  • There was that ‘almost there’ thud feeling on closing doors. Almost, because there seemed to be a tiny issue with the door alignment. Or maybe it was to do with the rubber dampening. I didn’t really inspect.
  • Overall the cabin felt smallish. However, given it’s size was not claustrophobic, despite the black interiors. Light colour interiors may not have looked as sporty, but would have added a much greater sense of space.
Closing Remarks:

IMO it very much seemed like a car made for singles or small families of more developed countries, where this would be an entry level sedan.

It should be a car where two adults are to be in front and kids in the rear. The occasional journey with adults would also not be an issue. Doesn’t seem to be suited at all, in case you are to be chauffeur driven (no surprise here).

The cabin though not claustrophobic, wasn’t really airy either. Just made across the acceptable limit, for me. I personally like airy cabins a lot.

Foot note.

A diesel cabin to be driven in? Well, we still don’t have much better than the Manza in the sub 10-12L range. (not counting the Optra). A 1.6L engine with a 50-80k increase in price and some more confidence in it’s reliablility and the Manza could really do well, IMO.

For petrols, it seems the Honda city is yet to get any real competition in cabin design, besides the rather unpopular petrol models of Optra and Manza.

Driven! - The New Ford Fiesta Diesel (Titanium+)

No offense meant to anyone. A lot of things stated are just the personal opinion of one person (me) and please feel free to discard them. Also please bear in mind that I am 6' and kind of widely built. Please TD the car yourself, as we experience cars very differently, to form an opinion for yourself.

There are Test Drives and there are Test Drives
So there I was, trying to squeeze in a TD, I rushed into the showroom without any prior appointment. The TD vehicle I had seen outside the showroom had started moving – someone was about to start a TD. I quickly requested the staff, made a noise and managed to get into the rear seat. The fellow took a round-the-block sort of a TD. About 3 kms of very sedate everyday driving. Was a sensible way to take a TD, I thought. He is using it as he would normally use the car on a day to day basis.

I found the rear benck,quite a comfortable place to be in, possibly because the benchmarks were pretty low. Had already seen the cabin before. The Fluidic only made the expectations lower. That said, it didn’t have as much legroom as the Verna, but felt a LOT lesser claustrophobic. Much easier to be with. The waist line felt higher (possibly because the seats were of a more appropriate height) and it made the cabin better lit. The seats seemed well designed, but as stated before only really for two and a kiddo. There was acceptable headroom too, without the seats being lowered (to uncomfortable levels as were in the Fluidic). The top of the windows seemed a tad low, but still better than the Fluidic. The ride was quite OK in the rear in the short sedate drive I had there. Didn’t really get to experience it in the rear bench anymore.

And I finally entered the hot seat!!
The ingress needed a bit of effort. Moving the seat back, getting in and then readjusting it to my body structure. The seat experience was quite the same. Not too well suited for my wide structure. After a while felt more at ease. Not ideally suited for me, but something I felt I would get quite used to after a while.

I tried various positions over the drive, but was only so comfortable in my driving position. Again, was something which didn’t seem well suited, but was something I could live with. Not as bothersome as a Cruze. Nowhere as comfortable as a Fluidic Verna or a Manza (or many others for that matter. Optra, of course was in another league for me). People with narrower bodies may like the seats quite lot, I think. However ones who drive for long periods (say 6-9 hours) may not appreciate it, as there seemed to be only one good position for one’s back. Any change in position felt uncomfortable. While such seats feel very good and sporty to start with, they may not be appreciated over time for many body types, especially for longer journeys.

The cabin on the whole felt swanky with all those buttons in the middle. Making one feel like a super techie. One which others would have to ask how to do this and that! A bit overdone for my personal taste, but something I got more used to over the drive. The line where the glass area (windows and windshield) met the ceiling was kind of low. It was in the upper reaches of my immediate field of vision. For taller people it would be a bit of a bother – something to get used to.

The left leg was seated quite comfortably on the console, but near as comfortable as the Fluidic. Overall quite spacious for it’s segment. The foot space was better than the Manza (probably the only place where Manza quite sorely lacks on space).
The Wheel felt good – Finally, we get to driving it
The steering had a nice sporty feel to it. Quite liked the grip it had at about 10:10 position. But I think I may be a bit ol’ fashioned and prefer more uniform steering wheels. They allow me to be less ‘sporty’ and make every day driving a bit more easy. If I was in some sort of a street race, this one would surely feel better. The only ‘problem’ being that I rarely get into those, if at all. I quite liked the horn 'button' in the middle of the steering. It was large, though not easily accessible while holding the steering at 10:10. I like it when the horn can be pressed while still holding the steering - those big ones which come close to the outer ring. This was half way there.

I usually can work comfortably with almost all gear boxes, so they don’t really stand out for me, unless they are particularly good or particularly bad. I think this one was quite good, but don’t take my word for it.

They say “no replacement for displacement” and it was showing. The 1.5 motor felt very much like it was – a 1.5. The 1.3 MJD’s had felt a bit underpowered in comparison. The Verna and Vento clearly more eager to please. It picked up quite smoothly and was nearly effortless. I may be wrong, but it didn’t feel as free-to-rev as the MJD’s. May be something to do with a FE based tuning of the engine. So, it didn’t feel underpowered at all, however didn’t have any thrill associated with it’s power either. Pretty sedate. What many will enjoy is the linear the power delivery.

There were times, when it felt that it didn’t respond to the throttle as one would expect it to, even though it was in the power range of RPM. The power was a tad delayed, however no where near being a deal breaker; not at all.

I turned; and I turned hard
What was really impressive about it was how very composed it was over rough roads. I didn’t get a chance to try it at high speeds, but at lower speeds it was wonderful. Broken road, taking a turn and this one is totally in control. Totally. A Ford, after all.

I had had the tyre pressure checked and got it to 33psi after some running so it would equate to about 31on cold – about ideal to check for handling, I thought. It was rush hour now, and was difficult to really push it hard to check the handling and road-grip at higher speeds. It did hold very well at sharp turns around a round-about - I wasn't fast, however it was not exactly a huge radius I was turning on. The rear tyres finally did slip a bit, but I felt a strong centrifugal force around telling me that this one was pretty sure footed at turns. Ford talking again. Loved it. While it was very good at low-medium speeds, I expect it would remain good at high speeds and not brilliant.

It was obeying commands rather well. Was quite quick to respond, but nowhere in Linea territory. Probably pretty much like the Vento.

I really did like the composure of the car. Something so sorely missed in the Verna.

Was the car telling me something?
After the experience with the Linea, this one felt clearly disappointing. The steering feedback was nowhere comparable. Yes, it is an EPS, but I wasn’t really as impressed as the others. What I did like however was how soft and easy it would become at lower speeds and the limited feedback would improve at higher speeds. That said, it may be more practical a steering to be with on your normal runs than the Linea, which was ‘too sporty’ for my everyday drives. So it was a more practical sorta steering feel than an all-out driver oriented one.

Given the handling, the ride was praiseworthy. For it’s size (am excluding the Optra from my mind here, as it really is a size bigger) it was soaking up the roads rather well. It also remained very well composed at double digit speeds.

And then it was humming something in my ears; rather my whole body
It was making a disconcerting low frequency humming sound, vibrations rather, at various speeds. It was inconsistent - there some time and not at all there at other times. The kind one would expect to feel in a low powered engine being pushed from a lower RPM. The RPM however wasn’t low and the power was being delivered quite like expected. I didn't attempt to replicate it, as then the whole TD would have been focused on this. It was very unwelcome for me. It could have been an issue with the new TD vehicle which was only a few hundred on the Odo. Possibly something to do with the car not being run-in, though I don’t really think that should be the case.

Had I seriously narrowed down to this car, this was a potential deal breaker for me, especially if I found it across multiple TDs. It really was adding to a sense of fatigue. All the NVH being controlled suddenly seemed useless. Besides the times this came up, the NVH did feel rather good. Almost Verna like. Almost, though not really there. I find all the gizmos and handling etc. pretty useless if I can’t be comfortable in the cabin to start with.

A Solid Feel
The car did feel rather solid. Very European and not at all flimsy. Probably even better than a Vento, but only just (and I am not going by the door thud). Not like the light Korean-Japanese builds. I really like that in a car. Also like the confidence in being able to go over rough roads and small humps, when one needs to. This car surely did provide that. This was a BIG plus for me.

As has been said before, it was being a bit let down by the motor, which didn’t match the sporty feel of the car, and that made it a sort of half-baked fun-to-drive car.

Thoughts to sum up
Am a bit confused where this car reaches. With the benchmark of a driver’s car at this price, the motor feels a bit of a letdown (is surely not bad, but not what one would expect). The steering, besides the wheel itself, isn’t too sporty either. The space in the rear bench is lesser than most in the segment. The seats themselves are more comfortable than quite a few, however. It then seems to have only a limited appeal as a driver’s car. However since the only other car (again excluding the Optra) for the FTD factor in this segment remains the Linea. Given how people want to stay away from the Tata service, this car makes a place for itself - a bit on it’s own merit, a bit because of the failure of the competition.

But that doesn’t sum it up enough. So who is this car for?
A family which doesn’t have tall people or is a couple with a kids and wants a car with some FTD, is looking for a car with some sense of style, image and good FE. Something the neighbors will look at. Someone who does go on highways and enjoys driving and still wants to stay away from Tata service.

If there aren’t tall people pushing the seats back, the rear bench should surely feel better than the Verna. The Verna may feel better if there are more tall people, as basic legroom is something one needs – an airy feel and under-thigh support is what one can relatively do without.

And yes, in case you are going to be chauffeur driven, make sure you spend enough time in the rear bench, to feel confident, as it is the front which is significantly more impressive.

End notes: (Yes, I still haven’t finished LOL, you guys must totally bored and be pulling your hair out by now!!!)

So, should someone who enjoys driving go ahead and book this car?
Well, I would say, TD the Linea for sure. You may love it enough (with it’s agile sharp nature and raw feedback) to want to bear TASS, as and when you might need it. Also if you find the cabin of the Vento livable (it didn’t work for me at all, mainly due to my body size and expectations) that may be the car for you, as it is a lot of fun to drive too, especially given it’s motor and one isn’t dealing with TASS.

Hope this was a worthwhile read and the effort of penning this helps some. Thanks for reading.
Note: By the time the Fluidic Verna and New Ford Fiesta were released, I was quite sure that if I was to spend about 10L it would be on the Magnum, but still thought it was a good idea to check them (after all even the Magnum wasn't the car of choice to start with). By this time, even if I knew the car wasn't for me, I checked it out for others in the forum.

Misc notes on yet more cars considered
(Most of them came up in the Choosing thread)

Mahindra Verito/Logan : This came up as an option to the Manza . It was a practical choice and the owners seemed rather happy. May have been another logical car to consider, but it had not appeal for me at all. Realizing that it's 100-0m braking distance was what didn't let this be a from-the-head choice either, despite how long lasting this car is meant to be. I preferred the Manza to this

Toyota Innova (pre-owned) : Didn't like the idea of an MPV as a self driven vehicle. Difficulty in finding parking for a vehicle of this size was another issue. It is a very practical and reliable though. More suited for the highways though.

Chevrolet Cruze (pre-owned) : Wasn't much for a pre-owned car, but this one had me drooling. Had loved it for it's highway manners. Firmer suspension helped a lot. Ride not as good as the Magnum. Seat ergonomics were very iffy for my body. Also the floor slope. Also the pedals locations didn't seem ergonomic. On the whole rear seat and driver ergonomics didn't seem upto the mark. The tiny search I did brought out that I'd not find a good one in what I was happy spending. In retrospect, the Optra felt better anyway, except for the idea that it was almost surely to get discontinued before the Cruze (there may be an exception - The Accent is around, the Pre-Fluidic Verna isn't). Had the cabin been better, it was an absolute wow car to own. The turbo-lag etc wasn't much of an issue for me.

Silly thoughts (pre-owned) : There was the odd thought of considering one of 'the' Germans, but a minute of thinking of the maintenance involved and this option was out of the window

Optra Magnum (pre-owned) : After all the mention of the resale value of the Optra being extremely bad, and repeated recommendations of going in for a pre-owned one, I did consider this for a bit and hoped to find a low use piece. Some logical talk about how diesel cars are usually not sold before some good mileage on them (40-50k) and @NoRules sharing his experiences on not finding a good piece discouraged me. I was anyway not keen on a pre-owned car.

Now for the reports of 'the' car


From the Choosing thread

- Whoooooooooooooo Hooooooooooooooooooooo! What a car to drive! Seriously!!!!! I mean, why, just why didn't this car sell in huge numbers?

- The driving experience was just wonderful. Have taken 2 test drives totalling to about 80 odd kms. Didn't feel tired after the drives, which were largely on open roads. Extreme acceleration. Loved the feeling of the torque and being pushed into the seat. Excellent brakes and straight line composure.

- Stable plaint ride. A bit of body roll and hence may not be the ideal car to be pushed into corners, but very good for everyday driving and more. Seems it would keep me comfortable on days when I need to drive 100 odd kms in a day in the city/city-suburb.

- Dated Cabin. However feels pretty ariy. I like that the dashobard doesn't get onto your face (unlike the newer "modern" cars like the Linea, City etc). The Music system could have surely been better, however those can be changed over time.

- Spacious cabin with ample head and leg room. Very comfortable seats- Front and back. Seems will be good as both- a self driven or as a chauffer driven car. (giving as powerful a car to a young driver does worry me a bit though)

- Not the smartest car on the block, but acceptably good looking.

- Seems to have a good image, though not top of the line. Please correct me here if my perception is wrong.

- Just loved the car and am glad that something like this is available at about 9L after discounts.

- Heart yearns for this car. Head wonders at it's prudence, given that it may be phased out soon.
From the Driven! thread

The Optra was a car one had seen on the roads for eons. Somehow never really crossed my mind as a serous choice for any of the purchases amongst family and friends all this while. At times, I wonder why.

I think this was the first car I test drove for this purchase, even though I am listing it towards the end in the posts. Happened to read an advertisement about the Optra at ~8.46L with a huge list of goodies mentioned.

Had contrasting experiences at the two Chevy showrooms I visited. One could barely care less. The other was very energetic and eager to please. A TD followed soon. On probing the sales guy told me the (which really was obvious, if had applied my mind before) that the features were of the more expensive models and the price of the cheaper one. He called it a marketing trick (which did work in my case, I must confess).

From the outside, the car felt quite neutral. Nothing special. Dated. A bit bigger than the others. However on the inside it felt a whole lot bigger than the others. It had a lower stance than all the others. The cabin was very airy. The dash design looked dated, though the overall finish was good. Pleasing, without any sense of style is what I'd say.

This car is clearly a segment or more higher than the other competitors, though old. It clearly showed out. The seats were very comfortable. Very. Preferred the higher stance of the Manza, especially for ingress and egress (which was fairly good in the Optra). However the seats, per se, were more comfortable in the Optra. Liked the centre armrest and the width on offer. Loved the space on offer.

Now we start and move on. From the inside, the car had a sense of presence, if you know what I mean. That it was clearly a much bigger car than the others one had test driven. And it moved like a bigger car (the 1370kgs were showing up). I have never really had an issue with Turbo lags of cars. So didn't have one here either. As we moved to slightly more open roads, it was a pleasure to rev this car gently. The torque could still be felt. No feeling of strain at all; just an assured torque pulling you ahead (the 2000 cc here, vs the 1250-1600 in others). It is an EXTREMELY smooth engine.

Soon I realized how I could barely feel any vibrations. It was also surprisingly quiet (forgot to notice the tyres). Excellent NVH management. Also noticed how the irregularities of the road were barely noticeable. Brilliant ride, I said to myself. Soon we are on an open stretch and I take this beast on. The famed surge pushing me back to the seat was surely there. I was floored, as I floored the pedal.

Even at high speeds, the car felt very composed and sure footed. Had that planted feeling (I guess the independent suspension and the weight would have a lot to do with it). Tried braking it quite hard. No swerves. Composed stop.

There was significant body roll. I expect it would be due to the softer suspension setup. But taking this further, the handling was a LOT better than what I would expect from such a soft suspension. Didn't have a sharp feeling, however surely had a very composed and predictable feeling from the little I pushed it. A VERY good balance of ride and handling for everyday use, still allowing one to have fun every now and then.

As one returned to the showroom, one was left wondering why this car wasn't a big hit and if I was missing something. Tried sitting behind the drivers seat (which was set as per my 6') and surprisingly, I could sit in acceptable comfort. The seat felt a tiny bit low though.

Overall a brilliant car, which looks a bit dated. The old dated designs did have their share of advantages though. Typically they are easier to reverse, have airy cabins without consoles that 'wrap' themselves around us, typically lower centre of gravity (better around corners). The boot, however is often smaller in such designs.

In the end, one was left drooling.
One was left wondering if one would want to plonk 1.5-2L extra on a car which may be discontinued in the near future, leaving a question mark on the spares availability.

PS: It was irritating to note that like the Vento, the indicators/wiper configuration was for left hand drives. Irritating that these manufacturers don't take us Indians seriously enough.
Another TD of the Magnum taken much later and reported on the Choosing thread

(Link: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/sedans...ml#post2428423 (Choosing a Spacious Diesel Sedan upto 12L) )

Had a TD of the Optra once again, guys. Didn't really need it, but since I had time and was in the vicinity, thought why not take one to confirm my views on this car. Was pretty late, so could not finish the TD as the Owner/Owner's father's car we being used as a TD vehicle. This also may be a reason why the car was very well maintained.

Now for the observations
  • The seat felt a tiny bit less comfortable. Adjusting the tilt of the seat almost took care of it. The rear seat angle felt a bit more upright this time. Guess it would be a bit to do with my being pretty tired by the time I was on the TD.
  • Found it to be even more fun to drive.
  • The car was the same one I had TD before, but it felt a bit different. Possibly been serviced in the meantime. The power delivery felt relatively more linear.
  • After bansal's experience (and this, by no means is to convince him), specifically checked how it went over humps and from lower speeds/rpms in second. I crossed a couple of the sensibly made speed breakers in third gear. Guess the speed would be about 40ish.
  • The ones closer to turnings were taken in second. It was at ~25kmph @ 1000RPM. Didn't think it to be fair to expect a diesel of this size to pick from below 1000RPM.
  • Was picking up acceptably from 1000RPM. More comfortably from around 1200-1400 RPM.
  • I normally try Test Drives with my normal day-to-day driving style and then push the car the odd time, when the city roads allow. This time I specifically checked on the cornering/handing (partly based on some remarks in another thread)

    It was surprisingly good. Even though there was some body roll, it was totally composed and 135degree turns being taken pretty quickly. Was even more impressed by this car (which, evidently I am in love with ). It wasn't a sharp - wasn't too quick to respond to steering inputs, however after that almost insignificantly short delay, (which may matter if one is in a rally or racing), it responded as one would expect a good handler to. So here was a car, which anyway had such a wonderful ride, now handling as well too. (guess the chassis and a well configured all independent suspension would be the reason for this). An absolutely wonderful combo of ride and handling.
  • There was no real lack of power at lower RPM's (>1000-1200). What was there, was a surge later (didn't check the RPM), which may give a perception of lack of power before.
  • I wonder why the car is experienced so differently by people. It may have to do with the maintenance of the TD vehicles and probably some upgrade to ECU settings. This one, as I had said was the owner's own car.
  • The steering feedback was nothing like the Linea. But in a way I am happy with it. It feels a tad less, but I think as one uses the car, one would know the limits of the car and be more sensitive to the limited feedback. Eventually it should feel like the right balance between feedback and ease of a soft steering.
  • Could pretty comfortably seat one 6'person behind another.
  • Yes, the cabin design felt dated. But as said a few times before, was of pretty high quality. Despite the dated look, there were areas where it felt better. It was very airy - something I love. The top of the windshield was high enough (unlike the NFF) The windows started low enough, even at the rear. There was ample legroom. The footwell was big enough and had a good dead pedal.
  • From the outside, I had initially found this car just better than average. Over time, as I have noticed many - when one looks at a newer Optra, it does look pretty good. The design has grown on me and has a bit of a timeless feel. Not the flair of the Cielo discussed, but a more sedate design.
Will add more, in case I think up of anything I missed here.

Edit: The slant (or rather lack of it) of the floor in the footwell was comfortable. Unlike the Cruze, where it seems to slant lower away from the body. The pedal placement and footwell of the Cruze really didn't feel comfortable to me. No such issues here. Maybe we should have a thread comparing the Optra and the New Optra (Cruze).

Last edited by Poitive : 17th August 2011 at 18:04. Reason: Reorganizing posts
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Old 15th August 2011, 04:32   #11
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Default Re: Finally! - “Driven!” & “Chosen a Spacious Diesel Sedan” – The VVS Magnum -(Optra)

@Poitive... At last, the Magnum is unveiled. Congrats on finally making the plunge after months of pondering over the positives of this wonderful car.

From your earlier threads, I felt Mustang101:Ford is Poitive:Chevy. :-) But now it is all-clear that you had fallen in love with this machine.

An excellent start to a wonderful thread. Looking forward to high-quality, in-depth and un-biased (doubtful, when one is in love) information.

Wishing you thousands of miles of happy and safe "flying".

Last edited by MAS : 15th August 2011 at 04:34.
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Old 15th August 2011, 05:11   #12
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Default Re: Finally! - “Driven!” & “Chosen a Spacious Diesel Sedan” – The VVS Magnum -(Optra)

Originally Posted by khoj View Post
Ah! so the curtain rises. Congratulations. Don't go stingy with the photographs, dirty, regular or whatever we are always eager to lap up as many photos as you can upload. All the best to you for your new ride and awaiting further additions to this thread of yours.
Hey Khoj! Thanks for your wishes man. Hope to get the dust of the camera pretty soon. Do feel free to add to the thread. I don't really take it as "my" thread, but as a more general thread to discuss and share stuff.

Wonder how your Cedia is doing and if you are keeping a tab on the fuel price differential to take the Magnum-plunge!

Originally Posted by MAS View Post
@Poitive... At last, the Magnum is unveiled. Congrats on finally making the plunge after months of pondering over the positives of this wonderful car.

From your earlier threads, I felt Mustang101:Ford is Poitive:Chevy. :-) But now it is all-clear that you had fallen in love with this machine.

An excellent start to a wonderful thread. Looking forward to high-quality, in-depth and un-biased (doubtful, when one is in love) information.

Wishing you thousands of miles of happy and safe "flying".
Thanks for your wishes MAS. It wasn't months of pondering. Was a few days/weeks of pondering and then months of painstaking wait! LOL

No no! I don't work for Chevy! Though I did have an interesting talk with someone from Chevy after my purchase, and told them that with the experience I have gained interacting with some potential buyers of the Magnum, I could give them a tip or two about how to sell it! They seem to be at such a loss.

About the unbiased bit - Have just allowed myself a bit to be like a kid about this car. Just adds a bit to enjoying it. Hope to return to my unbiased self very soon.

How is your purchase decision moving?
We seem to be a bit lost on stuff, after the Choosing thread closed.

Last edited by Poitive : 15th August 2011 at 05:20.
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Old 15th August 2011, 07:19   #13
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Default Re: Finally! - “Driven!” & “Chosen a Spacious Diesel Sedan” – The VVS Magnum -(Optra)

Congratulations Poitive! Finally it happened!

Even I thought you will end up with a Manza
Good that you decided on a couple of segments above.

Pictures are mandatory for ownership threads. So cut down on the text, and let the pictures talk
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Old 15th August 2011, 07:32   #14
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Hearty congratulations Poitive. Wish you many happy miles with the car. We need photos and intricate description of every part. Good luck and keep us posted. Atleast tell now what color it is
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Old 15th August 2011, 08:37   #15
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Default Re: Finally! - “Driven!” & “Chosen a Spacious Diesel Sedan” – The VVS Magnum -(Optra)

Congratulations dude! What color did you opt for? optra looks the best to me in grey. I am sure you will absolutely love this car for some years. that must have been 1 hell of a TD.
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