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Old 6th February 2012, 15:41   #1
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Default My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

I returned to India last fall after spending most of my adult life in the Yankee land. I have owned two cars over the last 12 years. The first was a 1997 Nissan Sentra that I bought as a graduate student in 2001 and later owned by my wife when she became a graduate student. Between two of us the car ran 152K miles. The only major repair we needed was changing the shock absorbers at 135K miles. The second car was 2005 Acura TSX. This was my regular commute vehicle from Santa Cruz mountains to the "Valley" and when I sold it this year it had ran 131K in less than 6 years. Once again I was lucky to own a car with almost zero maintenance. There were two minor repairs needed after 5 years of owning the car. The actuator for the electronic throttle failed at 120K and starter motor failed at 125K. When I sold the car, I still had 60% of the original front brake life on the car. The quote from my buyer's mechanic was "If you are not going to buy this car, then please let me buy".

On the other hand few of my friends who bought European sedans from VW/Audi and BMW/Mini had recurring problems from 50K on the ODO. One of the Passat owner was quite vocal about his feeling for VW.
These experiences confirmed my belief in Japanese automotive reliability and the decision to continue the tradition of owning a Japanese auto was made. I was little squeamish about buying a European car even though they are fun to drive and definitely better than what I perceive them to be.

So now the question becomes what car to buy.
Few decisions were made between my wife and I:

Non-Technical
a) No sedans/SUVs.
b) No Diesel
c) No European brand
d) Color choice was "Any color as long as it is silver"
e) No tall boy design, so Ritz was out

Technical
a) Engine performance. Needed a fuel efficient but fun to drive engine.
b) Clutch and gear. Acura had a very long throw clutch with short gears. It is fun to drive on the twisting mountain roads but pain to drive that kind of car in stop and go traffic. So need a short throw clutch very similar to Subaru Outback that I had my sights on once upon a time.
c) High GC. There is a bump in front of our apartment complex where I have seen a fully loaded Honda City get stuck.
d) Must have Dual Airbags, ABS, Power windows, locks and steering.
d) Good to have: a) Alloy Wheels, b) Wider and >= 15" Tires, c) HID lamps

Over to the candidates:

The top choice based on specs were invariably, Honda Jazz X and Swift Zxi as Polo and Fabia didn't qualify. Didn't care about Ford or Fiat.
Well as I started to decide on final picks two different problems hit Honda and Suzuki almost around the same time which really messed up the delivery time. The earliest Jazz delivery was 8-9 months which is a euphemism for "We don't know when" and Swift was more optimistic three months. Compared to that my previous car buying experience was more or less "Here is the cheque" and "Here are the keys, Sir, have a safe drive".

So off to backup plans. Whitefield Honda representative was quite persuasive to sell me Honda City SMT. If I was looking for a Sedan then I guess City was a sure buy. He even sweetened the deal to 8.8L OTR with 20K worth of goodies. Which some of my friends thought was a ridiculous price for City in Bangalore. But every time I thought of City, I could only visualize the speed breaker in front of my apartment and the lunar landscape i.e Outer Ring Road around Bellandur. Also to some extent there are so many "City"s on road in Bangalore.

So plan B, the candidates are Toyota Etios Liva V, Nissan Micra XV and Hyundai i10/i20.
Since I was buying around the year end, the dealers were going head over heels with price cuts and goodies. I test drove Liva and it is quite a nice vehicle if one drives it at 2.5K-3K on the tacho. The suspension is soft to simulate Mars rover !! I have heard so much about the interiors but practically I didn't care. Both my cars so far had gray interiors. The center mounted console is unusual but found it to be quite ergonomic. I guess seats and seat belts are made for Average sized Indians which we both are. So neither do we need seat height adjustments or seat belt height adjustments. The Noise level inside the cabin is high but I knew how to fix it and it costs $50 on Amazon.com. Toyota showroom on outer ring road is around 1 Km from where I live, so it is convenient.

Nissan Micra XV comes to almost the same price as Liva as the dealer was offering 50K cash discount. Micra looks like Nissan Leaf we were familiar with. The interiors are better than Liva and I liked the electronic door and ignition. The sore points were the GC and the lack of dealership. The car is less fun to drive than Liva but looks more upscale. Really liked the electronic foldable ORVMs. That feature is surely made for Indian traffic I guess.

Hyundai i10/i20 were kind of disappointments. With all the additional featuress in our check list, only i10 Asta fits the bill. Given it is a smaller car compared to both Liva and Micra, it is almost the same price. i10 has a very small backseat and it practically a 4 seater. Also the dealership at Trident Hyundai on ORR was rude with lot of attitude. i20 Asta was too expensive for a hatch. 1 lakh and few spare changes, I am in Honda City territory. The engine is too underpowered for a heavy car like i20. But the interior is undoubtedly the best amongst all the hatchbacks. It is even better than few sedans in the next segment.

We looked back again at Maruti Ritz Zxi. I would say it is really a good car. The TD vehicle had 28K miles on it. The gear shifts were not smooth as I think the gears have gone through lot of abuse. But if you push the car to 3K-3.5K RPM zone, the engine is super smooth. The price was around 5.9L OTR. So we really gave a long thought but decided the oddball design is really a deal-breaker. Sigh !!

Buying Process:
It was quite straight forward. Handed the check on a Wednesday to Ravindu Toyota and within couple of hours received the confirmation that the check has cleared and the car has left the Stockyard. There was initially a price war between two Ravindu Toyotas. The neighborhood Toyota dealer beat the price of their compatriot by 5K and threw in 10 K worth of goodies. So overall I received Rear Sensors, Floor Mats, Mud Flaps, Free zero deductible insurance, 3M Sunfilms and 3 year Free Maintenance and final price of 6.2L on the Liva-V. The car was equipped with Bridgestone Turanza(19560R15) tires as I had requested instead of the Goodyear option.
There was a small hiccup when on Thursday, the Sales Mgr called and informed that the registration number from Electronic City RTO ends with "0420". It was quite funny as previously I was assigned office no "666". I told him that I don't mind but she wanted to get it changed as she said that she had problems in the past when customers refused to pick-up the vehicle after the regn.
Anyway the vehicle was ready to pick-up on Friday afternoon and it was waiting at the bay when I stepped in. I had requested for no formalities, no ribbons, puja or garlands etc. The Sales Mgr was accompanied by her boss and presented me the keys in a silver platter !! We signed the documents etc and drove home. Brownie points for the free gifts of "Happy Endings" chocolates, T-shirt, Key Chain etc.

Initial Experience:
The car is fun to drive. I always felt that the driving passively during the break-in hardly helps the engine. I never really followed the manual but liked the BMW concept of cycling through various RPMs and pushing the car to 75% of max performance (Red Line) during the burn-in. Well I can say that kind of driving really hits the pocket when the petrol is Rs 73.5/L. I got hardly 12 KMPL during the first 1K kms City driving. Waiting for the first free service at the end of 1K to drain out the metal chunks that the engine must have shed :-)
The noise level is higher than what I am used to but the noise level of the entire country is high, why blame the car !! I bought the OEM rubber gaskets from Amazon that I will fit it on the doors after the service. There is a problem with dust creeping in between the gap in the door till the body gasket. It does not get inside the cabin but the car needs frequent dusting.
The seats are comfortable and very good neck support. I plan to change the seat cover to Karlsson leather soon.
AC is quite efficient and cools the car within couple of minutes of switching on. But for the first time I felt how much load AC puts on the drive train. Getting out of my apartment garage incline is piece of cake for the car without AC but not so much when the AC is switched on.
The suspension is soft and sometimes makes a sound when the car lands in one of the numerous craters on the moonscape. But the ride is quite smooth similar to the higher priced Toyotas. I absolutely love the small turning radius. Never needed a three point turn and always able to turn from right lane to oncoming right lane and pick up speed before finishing the turn.

What I don't like so far:
a) The reverse parking sensor is mounted on the corner of the passenger side airbag. What were they thinking !! Need to change that during the first service.
b) There is faint rattle coming from passenger side windshield and the hatch.
c) No engine temperature gauge.
d) MID is too small and consists of only two trip meters.
e) The USB/AUX cable is not included. It is cheap (Rs 675) but out of stock for some time. The CD player is OK. Does not skip even during the bumpy rides.
f) The power window switches don't have ridges to identify the respective switches.

Overall I would say, the car is performing what one expects from a reliable no-nonsense Japanese brand. Would I have bought this if Jazz was available ? Probably not, as the Jazz is more fun to drive and is better equipped. Between Swift and Liva, I would choose Liva. Swift backseat is quite depressing to put it mildly. Do I think Liva is overpriced without the discount ? Absolutely, 6.7L OTR Bangalore for Liva-V is way overpriced. One can always get the G-SP, but it lacks ICE, Alloy Wheels, Tacho Meter, Larger Tires etc.
So now I have owned cars from the Japanese big three. Wife is eying the Suzuki A-Star AT for the second car if we move, then we will own the other Japanese brand too. So wait till Mazda and Subaru comes to India !!
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Old 6th February 2012, 17:02   #2
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Default Re: My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

welcome back to namma bengaluru and congrats on the new Liva .
wish you many miles of safe driving .

Post some pics of your Liva as soon as you can .

Last edited by Fortuner71 : 6th February 2012 at 17:03. Reason: added few lines .
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Old 6th February 2012, 17:02   #3
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Default Re: My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

Congratulations to Mrs & Mr Acurafan on your new Toyota Liva. Here is wishing you many many happy miles on moonscape!
Thank you very much for sharing your buying experience, waiting eagerly for the pictures to follow.
Best wishes and happy driving.
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Old 6th February 2012, 17:22   #4
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Default Re: My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

Quote:
Originally Posted by acurafan View Post
The Noise level inside the cabin is high but I knew how to fix it and it costs $50 on Amazon.com. I bought the OEM rubber gaskets from Amazon that I will fit it on the doors after the service. There is a problem with dust creeping in between the gap in the door till the body gasket. It does not get inside the cabin but the car needs frequent dusting.
Buddy I had absolutely no idea reducing sound levels was so easily acheivable. Could you please provide a link to the product in amazon. Also before and after pictures of the the installation would be great. My interest is due to the fact that am awaiting delivery of my diesel liva very soon.
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Old 6th February 2012, 17:50   #5
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Default Re: My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

It is currently unavailable on Amazon but this is the product. I guess you can find it in any other auto shops. It is $13 per strip, each strip is 3.5m which is more than Liva's door's perimeter.

Amazon.com: Car Vehicle Door Rubber Hollow Air Sealed Seal Strip: Car Electronics
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Old 6th February 2012, 20:43   #6
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Default Re: My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

Neat write up! And a stunningly simple zero-in on the choice! I loved the way you set up your requirements and followed the elimination method. Ask around the forum how a lot of people find to difficult to decide on the vehicle from this segment!

Congrats on your choice - please bestow us with some nice pics of your car! Wish you miles of happy & safe motoring!
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Old 6th February 2012, 21:01   #7
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Default Re: My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

That's was a very crisp writeup which emphasizes the top priority of Indians, wherever they are (reliable long life = Japanese car). Going through your elimination process you followed, made me recollect what I did some 8 months when buying the Etios for my parents.

Hearty Congratulations on your new car and safe driving
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Old 6th February 2012, 21:02   #8
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Default Re: My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

Congrats on the Liva V. The discounts makes the car better priced than without discounts.

Do enjoy many more happy miles with the Liva V.
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Old 7th February 2012, 01:07   #9
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Default Re: My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

Great review!
Looking forward to some snaps, as well as pictures and a short review of the NVH problem after you fit the rubber seal strips. That is a problem many on this forum are complaining off, and it will be a boon for fellow owners to have a review of the same.
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Old 7th February 2012, 05:30   #10
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Default Re: My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

Congratulations, being a Toyota i am sure this car will serve you for long long time. BTW the Honda City when we drove my brother car over the Bellandur humps did not scrape anywhere. We live in one of the Sobha apartments.

Please do post some pictures, from outside and inside as well.
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Old 7th February 2012, 07:43   #11
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Heartiest congratulations Acurafan on owning the Liva. The car is a VFM buy and with your previous experiences with the Asian brands, I guess the choice making was not that too difficult. Enjoy riding the Q class hatch.

request you to post the pics of the new ride and if possible post in some snaps of the earlier Nissan and Acura too.

Happy mile crunching and drive safely.
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Old 7th February 2012, 10:22   #12
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Default Re: My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

Quote:
Originally Posted by acurafan View Post
..... Would I have bought this if Jazz was available ? Probably not, as the Jazz is more fun to drive and is better equipped..
Congrats on your Liva.

I had offer of 2 week delivery on Jazz but its low GC of 160mm was definitely a deciding factor (already have had enough dreadful experience on Delhi speed blockers for 6 years with Honda city) in favour of Liva V.
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Old 7th February 2012, 11:04   #13
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Default Re: My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

Thanks everyone for the support. It is heartening to see that my first contribution on team-bhp was well received by people whose posts I have admired.
I guess choosing a vehicle becomes lot easier if we remove the sentimental attachment to particular brands. In US I never liked Toyota cars as they had too soft suspension to feel the drive. I guess if I start using cars with sporty suspension on Indian roads, very soon I will have back problem !!
In past when I bought Acura TSX, I also had similar choices but binned out based on a weighted score. The emotional favorite Infinity G35 lost out because it had poor mileage compared to the competition and I had to drive 92 miles round trip everyday for 6 years. Lexus IS300 was boring to drive, Mini Cooper S was too impractical, BMW 3 series had just undergone the radical design change that everyone hated, Mercedes C Class had reliability problem and Acura TL had almost similar characteristics as TSX with a V6 engine !!

I will add the pictures over the weekend as well as the report of decibel levels inside the cabin before and after the door strips. I also feel that the door panels need some insulation and wish the windows were double pane.
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Old 7th February 2012, 13:22   #14
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Default Re: My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

Congrats acurafan on your Liva. Its indeed a great car to own and drive and being best positioned translates into better sales numbers. Like the way you zeroed in on your final choice and presented it in a no-nonsense manner. Perhaps some pics will add some glitter.

Would also like to hear about the feedback from hollow air strips you bought from amazon.
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Old 7th February 2012, 14:45   #15
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Default Re: My first car in India - Silver Toyota Etios Liva V

Hey acurafan, hearty congratulations on one of the most practical buys in the segment! Am I wrong in thinking that your colour choice too stems from practicality considerations?!

Also, welcome to the team-bhp and to Etios family!

I thought both the City and Jazz suffered from same GC issue. (Of course the new City 2012 now appears more practical with a GC of 165 mm)

Awaiting your experience with the stated NVH reduction measure from amazon.com.

Wishing you years of trouble-free and happy ownership experience!
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