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Old 26th June 2013, 13:16   #1
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Default The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic

First and foremost, I must admit that I really underestimated this car. This is for sure one helluva machine and I say this after having driven it for a month now. More on this later.

Background & Buying Decision: My better half wanted an 'Automatic' and only an 'Automatic' hatchback so the choices were very limited. This discussion was going on for more than a year now and even before the Brio AT was launched. At that time the only cars that could fit my requirement were the i10 Auto and the A-Star Auto. I have driven my in-laws' i10 (manual) extensively and dont have any rave reviews but for the peppy engibe of the i10. Further am not a great fan of Hyundai either. Enter the Brio AT and that brought a paradigm shift in the buying decision.

When the Brio AT was launched during Dussera of last year, I was very clear in my mind that this was the car I would buy as I am a great fan of Honda for long. I had planned to opt for company car lease for this car. Got the quote from Olympia Honda with whom I have a good rapport since my Civic purchase three plus years ago. Test drove the AT one Saturday and I was blown away. Wifey wanted Alabaster Silver though I was inclined towards Bright Red or Urban Titanium. Went ahead and blocked a Silver one since it was to be her car anyways.

A few days later I was told by the dealer that there was no news on when the stocks wouldbe arriving. It wasnt a good move by Honda having launched a variant around September but not being able to commence deliveries for months together. I was told that since it was the end of the year, the production would commence from Jan 2013 onwards. I waited, waited, and waited till March but nothing concrete was coming through. At one time I was even led to believe that the Brio AT will not even get to see the light of the day. Finally with much dismay, I went back to the drawing board and looked at the two options that were there. Without a second thought, I felt it had to be the A-Star AT.

Dealership Experience: Since I had opted for company car lease, I left the job of getting me the best bargain, in the hands of the leasing company. They got me the lowest quote from Khivraj Motors, Chennai. Along with that was thrown in free accessories worth 2K INR. I was quite happy with the quote compared to a few quotes from other dealers that I had got and decided to settle down for Khivraj Motors. (not knowing what was to ensue)

It would be an understatement if I were to say that the dealer lacked customer centricity. This came out clearly in more than one interaction (in fact every interaction of mine) with the sales person.

To cut a long story short, the following are few things that I can highlight

1. The only time the sales guy called me himself was to confirm the booking of the car, since it was through company car lease program. Every other interaction I had, I had to call him multiple times before I could get through to him. No habit of returning customer's calls or messages.

2. I had asked to see the car before registration as I wanted to be sure of the year and month of manufacture esp being automatic car. Despite me offering to go to the stock yard, he did not arrange for the same. What frustrated me the most was, he kept dragging the issue without a concrete response and finally when I came down hard on him said that it is strictly not allowed.

3. At one stage I got so annoyed that I messaged him asking him to cancel the booking. He responded immediately by sending the car home for me to have a look at. However, when the car left I noticed a deep scratch on the rear bumper. I waited to see how this was to going to be taken care of.

4. The car was sent for registration more than a week from the original date agreed albeit with much haggling and follow-up from my side.

5. Finally when I took the delivery of the car one fine morning, I was curious to know what had happened to the scratch on the rear bumper. I saw that it was repainted and one could make out the patch work. When I asked him about it, he casually responded saying that it had happened on the day the car was brought to my home and that they had repainted the same.

6. Last but not least, I had asked for the door handles and ORVMs to be painted in the body color since the A-Star Automatic comes with black door handles and ORVMs. He quoted an exorbitant amount of 2700 INR for that. What further shocked me was that he told me he could deliver the painted door handles and ORVMs at home the following week. On asking how that was possible, he pointed me towards another unregistered A-Star and said that they would remove the handles and ORVMs from that car, paint it, come home and fix it, and take back the ones on my car and put it back on this car. God save the customers from this dealer. I politely refused the offer citing the huge price tag to it.

That sums up my dealer experience. It has been more than 1.5 months since I brought the car home and till date I have not had a single follow-up call on the car's performance or for a service reminder.

The only reason I went ahead with this dealer was because of his quote which was the lowest of all. Also, if there was anything positive about the whole buying experience it had to do with the freebies that were thrown in (floor mats, mud flaps, side and bumper protectors/beadings)
Likes:

* Peppy and rev-happy engine. The 3 cylinder K Series engine pulls with
utmost ease.
* Visibility on the front is very good.
* Ingress/Egress in decent and lot better than the other two cars I own viz.
the Civic and the Esteem
* AC is a chiller. Works fabulously well and cools the cabin in no time.
* Leg room in the front is excellent esp for 6 footers like me.
* OE headlights are good and offer good visibility in the night. I hate to admit, but they are better than
the ones in my Civic.
* Foldable and Split rear seats offer utility value. (I was able to fit in my 3
year old son's new bicycle with utmost ease)
* Stock audio system is decent. Not too great but not bad too.
* Provision of USB port for music is a welcome feature.
* The car is very stable and feels planted at high speeds on the highway. Inspires confidence.
* Handles pot holes and bumps with aplomb.


Dislikes:

* Frontal appearance is not great. I do not fancy round-ish headlights. The car does not make its presence
felt
* The ORVMs are one of the worst mirrors I have ever seen in a car. They offer very limited visibility and
do not serve the purpose.
* The OE horn is pathetic to say the least and every time I honk, it frustrates me even more.
* The overall dashboard, I feel has been placed a little too high.
* Not sure why only one variant is offered on the Automatic. (sans body colored ORVMs and door handles)
* Absence of a windscreen wiper at the rear is a big let down. I am surprised how manufacturers either
overlook this basic requirement (as in case with the Brio) or offer it only on top end models. Retro
fitment is not a viable option.
* Rear visibility is limited, thanks to the small windscreen at the rear.
* One touch Auto-Down option is offered on the driver's side power window. I don't know how difficult it is
to have the same feature for rolling up as well. Heck, my 10 year old Esteem has it. Strange.
* Kick down on the highways does not happen when you want it to, and there is a minor lag there.
* While kick down happens on highways, the engine becomes noisy and one can hear it well inside the
cabin.
* Absence of temp gauge and tachometer.
* Absence of seat belt warning light.

Ownership experience so far:

Its been a month and half and I am thoroughly enjoying the ride (whenever I get to drive it). Most of the time its been driven by the end user (read that as my better half) and the feedback I have is excellent. It is breeze to drive the car in the city esp. after driving (rather say navigating) my Civic through the congested and arterial roads of Chennai. Did a highway trip as well a few weeks back and honestly speaking I was not quite sure if I should risk taking this car on the highway. But, boy she blew me away with her stellar performance. I could easily keep pace with the bigger cars/SUVs on the road and every KM I covered only inspired more and more confidence.

The only accessory I have added as of now is the art leather seat covers. They costed me 4500INR and are from Autofit. I intend to have 3M RE series sun films installed in near future.

A few days back, the car was due for the first free service. I entrusted it to my good old friend who is the SA at CARS India and who has been taking care of my Esteem as well.

Tasks done apart from the regular service:

1. I had complained of the AC blower being very noisy. This was attributed to a whole load of dust and
leaves that had accumulated in the blower when stashed away at the stockyard, I suppose. This issue is
now resolved.

2. Got the door handles and the ORVMs painted in body color. A decent job was done. Cost - 1700 INR. I
was given to understand that the relatively higher cost for this was a special liquid that gets sprayed
onto the objects before the paint is applied for it to hold good and long last. Nevertheless, am happy as
it is 1K cheaper than what was quoted by Khivraj motors.

Overall, I am very happy with the car for what it has to offer. I have not checked the FE deliberately as I want the car to run-in first. My guess is that it is offering 11-12 Kmpl within the city (with AC on all the time). The car is mainly used for short trips and hence I am guessing the FE to be on the lower side. The car will be completing 1K kms shortly and I propose to do a proper check (tank fill to tank fill) on FE.

While I still have the feeling I could have bought the Brio had I waited for one more month, the value that the A-Star has to offer and more importantly the lesser lease amount I am shelling out for this car brings a smile to my face.

Some random pictures:
Attached Thumbnails
The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic-20130511_131442.jpg  

The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic-20130629_163140.jpg  

The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic-20130629_174253.jpg  

The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic-20130629_174320.jpg  

The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic-20130621_183937.jpg  

The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic-20130629_174332.jpg  


Last edited by Technocrat : 15th July 2013 at 21:27. Reason: Autoform updated to Autofit, Please use report post function to make such changes. Thanks
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Old 12th July 2013, 19:51   #2
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Default Re: The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic

Let me be the first one to Congratulate you. Grey color looks very nice. Agree, with you, the A-star is quite understated, but has a lot of potential. The art leather seat covers look good. Please post some interior pictures as well.

Happy Motoring, drive safe!
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Old 12th July 2013, 21:12   #3
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Default Re: The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic

Nice and to the point review. The Automatic tribe on Team-BHP is on the rise! Looking forward to your experiences with your new acquisition.
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Old 12th July 2013, 23:22   #4
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Congrats, I have often felt that AStar makes sense in city traffic and is really an under rated car considering the vfm that it is. Request if you could share the otr cost and the discount that you're leading company got from the dealer.
Thanks
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Old 13th July 2013, 07:21   #5
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Default Re: The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic

Congrats rr_zen on the A-star and thanks for sharing a good review. I urge you to report the issues with the dealer to MSIL (contact@maruti.co.in)

The A-star AT with ABS makes a lot of sense for our cities if one is okay with the space at the rear and boot. We got an A-star at home and one thing that surprise people is the ride quality over bad roads and highways for the small car that it is. Also, the car feels very solid compared to others like the WagonR, Estilo or Alto.

The only thing I hate in the gently refreshed A* is all that Beige.

And I see that you got JK Vectra and they are one of the worst tyres that I have come across. If possible, change over to Acelere and you'll see a marked improvement on grip, noise and ride quality. Since your tyres are new, I guess you'll get a good buyback. I did that back in May and the detail are here: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/tyre-a...ml#post3126723

Last edited by deetjohn : 13th July 2013 at 07:23. Reason: typo.
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Old 13th July 2013, 08:46   #6
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Default Re: The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic

Congratulations on the new car! Few things from my side:

1. If possible kindly share the OTR cost of this. Even though A-star is not a seller, I am getting a word from everyone that dealers are not offering any kind of discounts on Automatic.

2. How bad is the space? Space at the back is usually cited as a weakness of A-star. I guess there must be 2 people in your car most of the times but have you ever tried sitting 4 people? Let me know what are your views on the space aspect.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 13th July 2013, 21:24   #7
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Hey, congrats on the a- star automatic. I am too in the same situation and thinking of getting the car for my wife. We have the same requirements, it has to be small and it has to be an automatic. Day by day, looking at the growing traffic on the roads, I am too of the opinion that an automatic small car makes better sense. And as you said; even I am not a fan of the i10. The a- star fits the bill perfectly in all respects for us too. Enjoy your new car, and do keep your experiences posted!
Edit : nice short review as well !

Last edited by W.A.G.7 : 13th July 2013 at 21:25.
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Old 14th July 2013, 09:08   #8
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Default Re: The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic

Congratulations rr_zen.
A-Star is an excellent choice.

I am also on a look out for an automatic car to be used in city for my better half. Have shortlisted A-Star. I like its compact design inside out.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rr_zen View Post
Dislikes:

* The overall dashboard, I feel has been placed a little too high.
Only issue I have is higher placed dashboard.
Can it be a deal breaker. Both of us are of average Indian height.
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Old 15th July 2013, 12:52   #9
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Default Re: The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic

Quote:
Originally Posted by deetjohn View Post
Congrats rr_zen on the A-star and thanks for sharing a good review. I urge you to report the issues with the dealer to MSIL (contact@maruti.co.in)
Thanks !
I have already sent a detailed feedback a few weeks back. Have heard nothing from the dealer as yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deetjohn View Post
The only thing I hate in the gently refreshed A* is all that Beige.
I fully agree with you. Even am not a great fan of beige. Guess its to appease the Indian mentality where one considers beige a premium. I am better off with shades of grey and black any day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deetjohn View Post
And I see that you got JK Vectra and they are one of the worst tyres that I have come across. If possible, change over to Acelere and you'll see a marked improvement on grip, noise and ride quality. Since your tyres are new, I guess you'll get a good buyback. I did that back in May and the detail are here: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/tyre-a...ml#post3126723
Thanks. I have been a victim of JK even in the past when I bought my Esteem in 2003. Had it been a personal purchase I would have replaced the tyres on day one. Not too inclined since it is a car through the company lease program. Will go in for it on completion of 3 years if I choose to buy back the car.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MaNishi View Post
Congrats, I have often felt that AStar makes sense in city traffic and is really an under rated car considering the vfm that it is. Request if you could share the otr cost and the discount that you're leading company got from the dealer.
Thanks
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saanil View Post
Congratulations on the new car! Few things from my side:

1. If possible kindly share the OTR cost of this. Even though A-star is not a seller, I am getting a word from everyone that dealers are not offering any kind of discounts on Automatic.
Thanks !

The OTR cost of the car was 5.12 L as of May 2013. This included a 25K cash discount as well. I am sure you would get a discount on the automatic since the movement is not as fast as the manual. (For example, mine is a Feb manufactured car and I got it delivered in May.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saanil View Post
How bad is the space? Space at the back is usually cited as a weakness of A-star. I guess there must be 2 people in your car most of the times but have you ever tried sitting 4 people? Let me know what are your views on the space aspect.

Thanks in advance!
As you rightly mentioned, mostly it is only two people in the car. Even if there are four people then mostly it is my kids that occupy the rear seat. Haven't really had four adults in the car travel except for the test drive when I had my four people. I am sure the seating at the rear is cramped for an adult, however should be manageable for short drives. One other thing that I noticed was that in such a situation, the visibility at the rear is grossly affected.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4nd3r50n View Post
Nice and to the point review. The Automatic tribe on Team-BHP is on the rise! Looking forward to your experiences with your new acquisition.
Thanks !

Quote:
Originally Posted by Satshan View Post
Let me be the first one to Congratulate you. Grey color looks very nice. Agree, with you, the A-star is quite understated, but has a lot of potential. The art leather seat covers look good. Please post some interior pictures as well.

Happy Motoring, drive safe!
Thanks ! Posting some interior pics as well below.


Quote:
Originally Posted by S.MJet View Post
Congratulations rr_zen.
A-Star is an excellent choice.

I am also on a look out for an automatic car to be used in city for my better half. Have shortlisted A-Star. I like its compact design inside out.

Only issue I have is higher placed dashboard.
Can it be a deal breaker. Both of us are of average Indian height.
While I would term the high placed dashboard to be of some minor inconvenience, I wouldn't really call it a deal breaker. You can certainly live with it.
Attached Thumbnails
The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic-20130714_132706.jpg  

The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic-20130714_132731.jpg  

The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic-20130714_132826.jpg  

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Old 16th July 2013, 10:21   #10
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Default Re: The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic

Congratulations on the purchase. I really like the A-star and an automatic version would be excellent for city traffic. I have only driven the manual so cannot comment on the auto box but as a car its pretty solid.

And yes , it does not have an imposing road presence like some others but in terms of the exterior looks i do think the car has character - even if thats more towards "cute" than "beasty"
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Old 16th July 2013, 17:47   #11
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Default Re: The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic

Congratulations and welcome to the A-Star Automatic Family.
One thing I will echo from the previous posts is to please replace the el-cheapo tyres that come as standard (mine were CEAT Milazes), with either Aceleres or Michelin XM2s. I did replace mine with XM2s and the ride quality did improve quite a bit, esp important given that the A-Star's ride is not its best feature (the trade-off, of course, being good handling and stability on highways).

I am a it jealous, but also glad, that the new A-Stars have a USB port. Thats one thing missing when I bought mine last year.
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Old 22nd July 2013, 23:32   #12
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Default Re: The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic

Thank you rr_zen for the interior pics. The beige color of the leather seat covers makes the car look more roomy and spacious from inside. The red combination adds a more sportier feel.
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Old 23rd July 2013, 07:19   #13
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Default Re: The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic

Congratulations. Our A Star AT is at 22k+ in 13 months and driven a lot on highways. The car drives great on highways and is stable even on potholes wit 170 mm of minimum gc.
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Old 23rd July 2013, 12:06   #14
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Default Re: The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic

Quote:
Originally Posted by S.MJet View Post

Only issue I have is higher placed dashboard.
Can it be a deal breaker. Both of us are of average Indian height.
The high dashboard is definitely not a deal breaker, it just needs getting used to. The distance between the front bumper to the A-pillar isn't a lot, drive it for a couple of hours and you will feel at home.

rr_zen: A*, according to me, is one of the best built and sturdiest cars that I have ever driven. The smallish wheelbase makes it very chuckable and the engine is very frugal making it a delight to drive on the highways. Congratulations on the best buy in this segment!!!

And yeah...change those stock vectras. Road noise in atrocious. I had mine changed to xm1s (it was over 4 years ago) and the noise was minimal.

The only problem I faced quite frequently was the rusting of the steel rims. That created gaps between the rubber and the rim which resulted in complete deflations especially during the monsoons. Alloys are recommended.
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Old 24th July 2013, 15:49   #15
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Default Re: The new kid on the block - A-Star Automatic

Congrats rr_zen. Excellent choice. This car is exported more than sold in India. May be that explains for the tight and sturdy build quality as also fit and finish. MUL is so happy with exports that they do not push this car in India.

I bought mine 2 years back and am throughly enjoying it. I get 13-14 kmpl in city with aircon on all the time. Highway figures are 17-18 is driven sedately at 70-80 kmpl. The engine is very peppy and it easily keeps up with bigger cars. Compact size is boon in traffic. Ok, you dislike those headlights? I JUST LOVE those round headlights. Matiz, Porsche ( I know, I know this car lives in stratosphere ). Yes, A-Star headlights are very bright. May be because of round shape. Did you ever see Tata Ace headlights at night in your rear view mirror? They look like search lights at watch tower. No shape can beat round in brightness. Grey is a good colour on this car. Anyway, enjoy.
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