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Old 19th October 2015, 21:37   #1
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Default Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

It all started 3 years ago, when the first thoughts of an upgrade to the 6 year old Esteem crossed my mind. The royal Maruti Suzuki sedan had been a loyal companion on umpteen long drives, family commutes in and around the city as well as grueling everyday rides to work.

(codenamed A340 – owing to its long slim frame like the Airbus namesake and thanks to my obsession for commercial aviation)

In as many as 9 years and 88000 kms, the only big expenses have been the clutch assembly and tyre, both @ ~ 50000 kms. While the Esteem was an absolute sheer pleasure to own, thanks to its peppy engine, decent road manners, legendary reliability and ease of ownership, there were specific things that I was looking for by way of an upgrade.

The list of to-haves, including a scale of importance in ascending order, looked somewhat like this:

a. 2 Airbags & ABS (10/10) – Needless to say my minimum benchmark for safety kit - no compromise here. ESP would be a welcome inclusion, but not break the deal.

b. High seating with good visibility for driver and easy ingress and egress at the back (8/10) – I’m 5’ 10” and my thighs barely rest on the seat when driving the Esteem. My parents find the rear bench comfortable, but getting in and out is easier said than done.

c. City driveability (8/10) - AT options in dual-clutch or CVT preferred, as most of my driving (>80%) would be in city; diesel preferred for better torque at lower RPMs; mileage not a deal breaker, unless claim itself was in single digits!

d. Good suspension and ground clearance (7/10) – I'd prefer not to hold my breath every time I pass one; bad road-ability rather than off road-ability.

e. Boot space of around 400 litres (7/10) - The Esteem being my benchmark, I've never had the need to fold down the seats, except once when I'd to take my kid's bicycle along.

f. Kit and gizmos (7/10) – Reverse parking sensors; Auto climate control; electric OVRMs at minimum.

With the above in mind and no particular timeline in consideration, the hunt for the car began. While many cars came into reckoning, the following "serious" contenders entered the shortlist:

1. The VW Polo GT TSi. My first hand at driving the DSG mated turbo petrol and I absolutely loved the little VW. The DSG makes city commute a breeze and highway driving a pleasurable experience. Thanks to ultra fast shifts and a very capable turbo charged engine, this was a drivers car with a big heart. What worked against the hatch was the low seating, disappointing boot and rear row, added to a lukewarm VW sales experience. While notches above the Esteem in build and ride quality, this wasn’t the “upgrade” we were looking for. In retrospect, if the GT TDi was offered with a DSG box, I might've bitten the bullet.

2. In the meanwhile came contenders which were test driven with half-hearted intent - popularity and mass appeal being the catalysts. The probables included the Honda City iDtec - The debutante Earth Dreams engine actually turned out to be a decent all round performer, but the design did not grow on me, while ground clearance and way too much engine noise were deal breakers. Renault Duster 85 - Enjoyed great patronage thanks to being the first entrant to the mini-SUV segment. Was quite satisfied with the 85 BHP config, but turned out safety kit was offered only in the top trim. A bulky butch exterior and economy interiors warranted a rejection.

Come 2014, the hunt for the perfect car intensified with renewed interest.

3. Ford Ecosport TDi. I’m not a fan of big cars, but like the characteristic tall boy stance they offer (I also like smaller, but taller counterparts like the WagonR & Ritz for their immense practicality). I extensively test drove the EcoSport from self-drive rentals with Zoomcar, including three weekend trips to Mysore. What with smashing looks, exceptional all round manners, the proven TDi mill and a footprint I absolutely loved, it seemed this car was tailor made for us. The much criticised rear bench never appeared insufficient nor did the boot seem impractical. When everything seemed to fall in place, came a spoke in the wheel - insanely long waiting periods of 8+ months for the Titanium trim. To add to the agony, prices were jacked up a second time after launch, thereby having us rethink our plans (IMO, consumer value perception is strongly influenced by rate of product price movement. One of the reasons why "introductory/limited pricing" works well with launches - the perception of getting more than what you pay for) The spiraling circle of wait times and price hikes turned us away from the mini-SUV - for the time being.

4. The Fiat Punto Evo 90 HP. Then came the revamped Punto, christened the Evo. You have to drive a FIAT to believe in the fanboyism, and I came very close to turning into one. Solid and stylishly built, a jazzy all black theme and a sporty dashboard among others, spoke of great Italian engineering and contemporary styling. Although the MJD in its FIAT avatar is said to be least tweaked, it felt sufficiently peppy to please me. What worked against the hatch was a terribly designed ABC layout - an absolute deal breaker - took me several attempts to place the foot on the dead pedal without being interrupted. In fact, we subsequently pre-booked the Avventura based on the sales advisors' feedback that FIAT had rectified this, only to realize that it wasn't. Add this to a hopelessly impractical and complicated boot design, we ended up withdrawing our booking in a hurry.

In the meanwhile, I got busy with business travel during the last quarter, and car hunt took a backseat!

By Apr of 2015, we’d begun to put off our driving holiday plans in anticipation of a new car. It was then that rumours of the launch of SX4 S-Cross began to intensify. I started to closely follow all discussions and updates on T-BHP and the internet.

Armed with loads of information (and a stretched upper budget of ~ 14 lakhs), we finally narrowed down to the Skoda Rapid DSG and the Maruti Suzuki S-Cross.

5. The Skoda Rapid DSG. Few cars have styling and design elements that combine into a confluence of class and elegance like the Rapid. The latest entrant in the shortlist had been around for half a decade, but still solicited attention on the roads. The military class build, combined with an excellent diesel engine, a convenient gearbox (save for the notoriety of reliability) make the Rapid an exceptional all-rounder. The more I test drove the Rapid (I did so thrice), the more convincing it appeared to seal the deal. An iota of hesitation coming from tens of messed up ASS cases and reliability(the lack of it) reports. After endless debates with my wife, justifying the Rapid's practicality and worthiness, we finally decided to give the S-Cross a fair chance. After all it was just around the corner and it would take a mighty lot of competition to unsettle the top contender.

Then came the turning point came – a phone call (or rather, the calling) from my RM on the 7th of August to test drive the S-Cross DDiS200 at Mandovi Motors, Lavelle road. It appeared I was among the first few to be able to try my hand at the premium X-O.

6. The S-Cross DDiS200. It was a case of "impressed at first sight" - the TD car in signature blue looked mature, yet stylish enough to warrant appreciation. It was immediately evident that the car looked much better in flesh than in print and TV adverts. We were whisked away for cuppa and lots of gyaan on what the car had to offer, while those ahead in the the queue got their chance to drive the crossover. The stand-in RM was well informed about the technicals and features and ensured that we were well briefed before the drive.

Soon as our turn to TD came and I took the drivers’ seat, the premiumness began showing-up.

A short test drive that ensued, confirmed that the 1.3 MJD was tuned to be able to make driving in rush hour traffic easy. The clutch play appeared very short (I realised later that this wasn't exactly the case) and gearshifts easy to execute. The apparently long gear ratios in 2nd and 3rd, helped sail through rush hour traffic without much difficulty.

Since Mandovi did not have their NEXA dealership operational, we headed to Museum NEXA to check out the colours. While all of us in the family favoured the grey (parents, wife and kid), the silver looked impressive. We decided immediately that if it is the S-Cross, it would be in Premium Silver. The cladding and roof rails stood out in contract and the car looked stuffier in Silver than in other colours. My kid was disappointed that no one favoured the Brown!

I requested a longer TD, which was promptly arranged on a weekday. I had agreed that I would need the car for a full hour and would take it for a spin on the new airport road - the best place to subject the car to various conditions. It was here that I could understand the crossover’s characteristics better. The all round performance resembled the EcoSport's closely (my benchmark for expected and anticipated performance) in all conditions we had a chance to drive that morning. In Summary, impression from the first drive stood affirmed.

Impressions from the test drives - 07&11-Aug:

Seating Ergonomics & Steering

Small, elegant steering wheel with great adjustment for rake and reach. The factory fitted leather wheel was very comfortable to grasp, although not as good as the one on the EcoSport with the contours. Since I’m used to a very dated two-spoke design on the Esteem, the horn felt a bit farther. The EPS unit ensured that maneuvering at slow speeds was an indefatigable affair, feedback at higher speeds, definitely confidence inspiring. The nice thing about the steering is that it’s neither as light as a Hyundai, nor hard as a FIAT. BTW, I did not experience the zero-feedback zone that some of the reviews reported - maybe that is apparent at the kind of speeds the 1.6 MJD is capable of doing. The reach adjustment was particularly handy (I’m 5’10”) and could push my seat comfortably back without having to lean forward to clasp the steering wheel.

Excellent seating ergonomics with good thigh and back support. The seats are on the firmer side with good adjustment for height. The height adjustment mechanism is angular, meaning that there was only one lever for adjustment. My Esteem has two dials that actually result in a uniform increase in height at both ends, which in turn results in a higher seating position. The tall seating in the S-Cross can only be appreciated by experiencing it in person – I did not anticipate the view to be as anywhere like how it actually was from the pictures I'd seen till then - visibility from the drivers’ seat was perfect all around, particularly thanks to the large quarter glass. The side view mirrors showed vehicles to be considerably farther than they actually were – for someone who is used to a plain mirror as against a concave one, it took a while to correlate the distance reasonably accurately.

The nice broad arm support has superb range and is very thoughtfully placed. The soft leather padding is on the thinner side, but adequate enough. The sliding mechanism was a bit hard to operate and needed to be nudged, but this may have been deliberately designed to avoid sliding, once the car is mobile.

MID, HU and Controls

The MID is very pleasing to the eye with good contrast and readability, thanks to the monochrome display (I find the red/green ones a bit too intrusive). The toggle button was a bit tricky to land my fingers on. The blue lighting on the dial circumference is classy and adds a lot of character to the instrument cluster. The gear indicator, although, was sorely missing.

The Climate Control panel is very thoughtfully placed right close to the gear knob. I discovered later that the buttons lit up when parking lights were turned on, very convenient, but not obvious. I particularly liked the brushed silver bezel around the HU and the center AC vents. The HU integrates very nicely to the glossy surface within the bezel. The touch screen unit itself was very responsive to inputs, almost like a smartphone if I may say so, and switching between functions was quite easy as well. The Navigation system does not allow keying in inputs when the car is in motion, another thoughtful safety feature, but I wish it recognized if the inputs were from the co-driver. The reverse camera and sensors do not exactly work in tandem. The camera switches on almost immediately after slotting the car in reverse gear and provides a broad view of the surroundings, including the surface, two feet away. The parking sensors only indicate proximity and do not show the distance. The arcs and beeps, together with the camera make parking in tight places an easy experience.

Neatly tucked away under the arm rest, the USB charging/media and AUX ports are a welcome arrangement, but I found it rather difficult to reach the bottom without unbuckling the seatbelts. Perhaps, intentionally designed to thwart drivers from plugging in phones or devices while driving.

The drive

To begin with our return - the long TD on Bangalore airport road - we were encountered by bumper-bumper rush hour traffic as we veered out of the expressway. These were testing times for the S-Cross, and for once, I was looking forward to driving in conditions I usually try circumventing. The single biggest difference to driving the S-Cross versus my Esteem was the reduced need for continuous gear shifts at lower speeds. The seemingly wider gear ratios and substantially better low end torque make handling slow moving traffic a relatively easy task. The Esteem also features a 1.3L pot, but I know it's unfair to compare it to the MJD mill. As the traffic slowed down and eased up again, the 2nd and 3rd gears could almost interchangeably be used to continue moving. It was clear that most of the in-city action will be on the 2nd and 3rd gears. The gear shifts were easy to execute thanks to the precise and firm slotting, almost like the Swift, with well-spaced out throws.

The open stretches beyond the city limits was where I was pleasantly surprised. I remember a friend of mine who used to complain about his Ertiga losing steam as soon as the needle touched triple digits. I was wary of the feedback and was watching out for how differently (if at all) the S-Cross performed. I was relieved and elated, both, as we did speeds of 110-120 kmph without the X-O showing any signs of weariness, that too under 3000 rpm. I heard from the driver who accompanied us say that the car could do well over that without fuss, but did not want to try anything beyond that in a car I was new to and knowing fully well I seldom drive faster than that. The acceleration is quick with the 3rd gear also has a long ratio and can take the car all the way upto 70-80 kmph. The mild effect of turbo kicking could be felt at ~ 1700-1800 rpm range - not a shove, but smooth and sweet thrust! Essentially, for my style of highway driving, the DDiS200 felt more than adequately powered. Yes, it did need a downshift from 5 to 4 in case a quick overtake was anticipated and needed execution, but slowing down to around 70-80 and accelerating back was not at all an issue while remaining in top gear, provided, you'd give it a few seconds to do so.

Ride, handling and braking

The two TDs we took reinforced our faith in the S-Cross’s ability in the ride and handling department. The ride did tend to get bumpy at slow speeds (not as stiff as the EcoSport though), but the strength of the car lay in how it took the undulations at higher speeds. You can almost carelessly drive through pot hole ridden roads without having to worry. The ground clearance of 180 mm appears to be a slightly low for a crossover, but was found adequate to take on most speed breakers without bother. Handling left me mighty impressed - the car remained planted, body roll was very minimal through the long drive. Although I have never felt "unsafe" in the EcoSport despite its lower wheelbase and higher center of gravity, the S-Cross appeared to have best of both worlds, a low slung sedan and a tall SUV - it's ain't for nothing they call it a CROSSOVER

Braking seemed very controlled and efficient with a small thrust sufficient to feel the calipers come into play. Although I did not try attempt anything silly like trying to come to screeching halt (I know a friend who does this during TDs) or trying to sense if the ABS kicked-in, I felt the engagement was sufficiently strong and commensurate with inputs. Perhaps, knowing beforehand that all four wheels are on disks does bring a placebo effect into play!

NVH & Refinement

Overall NVH levels seemed to be at an acceptable level. Although this is the first diesel vehicle we were likely to buy, the louder clatter was not a concern. In fact, I like the grunt from the likes of the MJDs and TDIs, especially in lower gears. The Engine noise in the S-Cross sounded considerably louder at lower gears and gradually smoothed out as the car speeded up. The refinement could have been better given that the engine has been around for years. With windows down the noise crept in and overshadowed that of the tyres, but when rolled up, reduced substantially. In fact, the insulation seemed to iron out the outside noise substantially.

One spot of bother was the “click” from the front windows even with them rolled up completely – when using the power window switches to check if the glass was fully rolled up, they seemed to make a click as though to bridge a small gap. My decade old Esteem has firm and solid closing in comparison.

The interiors

The all black interiors do not give a cramped and claustrophobic feeling like they usually tend to, mainly thanks to the roomy interiors and large glass area, particularly the smartly inserted quarter glass also at the back. The dashboard was mighty impressive thanks to the upmarket feel soft material complimented by a beautifully crafted tapering design and the brushed silver bezel housing the HU. To compliment the superb seats at the front, the rear bench also features high seating, with good width for three passengers and decent thigh support for all passengers. The transmission hump is definitely a hindrance for the third passenger on long drives, but the width is comfortable to place both legs on, unlike the VWs and Skodas, where its slimmer, but taller. The middle seat is perhaps perfect for a child who has outgrown the baby seat.

The little things like large sized bottle holders, wide arm rests with cup holders, independent pilot lamps, vanity mirrors with light, sun glass holder, cubby holes, back seat pockets, a very large parcel tray, add to the practicality quotient. The switches, buttons and most plastics seemed obviously borrowed from an older sibling - "function over form" seems to have been the build philosophy. A closer second look at the boot confirmed that the space was reasonably sufficient for our needs, what with most of our drives limited to the city and nearby places. The 60:40 split being standard across variants, and the low loading lip a practical forethought, there was nothing to complain about, except with closing the boot itself. It took me at least three attempts to actually get the door to latch close.

The outsides

The S-Cross appears obviously built for practicality rather than appearance. The overall fit and finish is very commendable with solid doors and panels. The panel gaps weren’t as close as in the Rapid, for instance, but very consistent. Maruti certainly seems to have moved up a couple of notches with the paint quality, starting with the Ciaz. All shades of the S-Cross, leaving the white, appeared to have a nice glossy VWish finish. The front grille, very unlike the EcoSport, is minimalist and could have been more pronounced – at least the same 3 slot grille as the international version. The roof rails lend a touch of style to an otherwise conservative design approach. The headlamp cluster appeared a tad bit large with the clear lens arrangement (non-Alpha models) and resembled the older sibling - the SX4 very closely. The alloys were the biggest dampener and it was hard not to find fault with the terribly designed stock set.

Entertainment & extras

The integrated audio system delivers decent output and sounded adequate to please most ears. The good insulation levels meant sufficient sound at lower volume levels. The drivers delivered very average highs and good mids for a stock setup, but the bass was a bit loose. The choice of sources was a bit a tricky to navigate between and it was not clear whether the last used one had actually turned off. For e.g., upon pairing my phone, playing a song and disconnecting, the FM radio started to play. The remarkable thing was that the volume is source specific.

Minor things like minimal use of chrome (very easy to turn looks either ways), an elegantly styled back (tail lamp cluster in particular), nicely crafted functional roof rails in silver, well integrated cladding and skid plates, large glass areas, were among design elements we liked. Overall, the aesthetics of the S-Cross appeared to follow the please-not-so-many, but offend none principle.

I was accompanied by my wife on this hour long drive and after deliberating with the rest of the folks back home, we concurred that the S-Cross it would be. Unless, Maruti priced it atrociously (i.e. over 14 lakhs for the 1.3), compelling us to consider the Rapid or fallback on the EcoSport!

We caught up with the TD car

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I was a bit disappointed that Alpha was priced substantially higher than Zeta – turned out the difference was almost a lakh and ninety grand in Bangalore. Although we had set an upper budget of 14 lakhs - in anticipation of the Rapid DSG Elegance - I felt the Zeta was a whole lot more VFM, considering the additional kit it offered vis-a-vis its 1.6 counterpart and since I'd really be only missing the HiD bi-xenon projectors.

It was therefore, the DDiS200 Zeta in Silver trim.

Sidenote: codenamed A350 for the newest widebody Airbus offering, the other similarity being, stereotypical, subtle design. Although OT, it might be interesting to note that Airbuses are perceived to be built for only for function as against form. So much so, that some aviation experts almost take offense at the lack of aesthetic focus in the design approach. Then again, who can argue against looks being subjective. I find the A350 XWB as cool as the B787 Dreamliner. Anyone disagrees!?

All in all, the reliability of a proven and fun to drive diesel mill, better soft-roadability and brilliant after-sales service experience and reputation worked in favour of the Maruti Suzuki S-Cross, prompting us to eliminate the Czech Sedan from the final duel.

The quintessential PDI:

I was a bit casual about the PDI, thanks to the lackadaisical response from the dealership due to a delay in shipment combined with my busy work schedules. I must admit that I was a bit complacent with the process, given that this was a new launch and the probability of delivering an older car or one that had clocked more miles was almost ruled out.

It was when the car was being readied for delivery that my BIL noticed a very fine, but long scratch on the bonnet and a small chip beside the rear door. The chipping needed a small paint job, but was hard to notice unless one looked closely. While we noticed this before taking delivery, I saw no point in creating a scene or delaying my delivery from the planned time and date. A senior staff member at the dealership promised to have the same fixed at the time of the first service.

The delivery experience

We took delivery on the forenoon of the 21st of September. I'd requested my BIL to along and this proved to be very valuable - while I was busy verifying the documents and completing the formalities, he did a thorough inspection of the car, inside out, to make sure that everything was in order. There were a few niggles as the car was not completely cleaned and ready at the promised time, but thankfully we had enough "buffer auspicious time" and the excitement of bringing home the new acquisition quickly overshadowed the mild disappointment.

We expressed our token of appreciation to the RM by way of a box of celebration chocolates.

One thing that stood out in my experience with Nexa Palace was that while the designated RM, senior staff and the dealership manager were very forthcoming and cooperative when it came to obliging to my requests, be it arranging for a longer TD at a specific time or following up with the other teams and having specific questions clarified, the delivery experience definitely left us wanting. I still cannot believe that the car was delivered to us semi-cleaned and with yellow cloth fibers in most places, despite confirming delivery a good three days earlier.

ODO reading at the time of delivery:

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Just blessed:

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Nice to hold slim frame semi-hard steering

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Another "nice to hold", the gear knob

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Wide armrest with a long range

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Chic co-driver armrest

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Uber looking dials light well

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Brilliantly integrated bezel

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Sleek ACC unit

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The stunning dash takes the crown

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Reach me if you can - USB and AUX ports deep within

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Storage unit in the dash with a flimsy lid

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What did you think the driver will hold on to?

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ABC well; rest pedal could've been better finished

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Almost flat folding 40:60 seats

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Very roomy and open at the back

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The transmission beam - wider than taller

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Validating my desire list:

a. Safety - 2 Airbags & ABS (10/10) – CHECK

b. High seating with good visibility; easy ingress/egress at the back (8/10) - CHECK

c. City driveability (8/10) – Well! No AT disappointing, but driveability CHECK

d. Good suspension and ground clearance (7/10) – CHECK

e. Boot space of around 400 litres (7/10) – Well! Almost there with 40:60 - CHECK

f. A good list of kit and gizmos (7/10) – Reverse Parking, Auto AC, Adjustable OVRMs and Alloys – CHECK

g. BONUS: Navigation, Bluetooth (works like a charm!), a very practical Reverse Camera, Cruise Control (never anticipated how useful this could be), 40:60 folding seats, all Disk Brakes, HiD Projectors (chose Zeta, eventually, not applicable) – CHECK

Things I’d have liked/preferred:

a. A better NEXA experience for all the sound and noise Maruti made over the enhanced buying experience. I was not looking to be served Darjeeling tea every time I stopped by, but small things like clarifying NCB applicability, proactive PDI scheduling, the customary ribbon on the bonnet to say its new (as it is heads do not turn! read Creta!)

b. A better choice of OEM accessories. Seriously NEXA! There hasn't been a single addition to the accessories list on the website since the launch in August. The dealerships could have easily cashed in moolah and goodwill on offering Alloy swaps.

c. A dual-clutch AT option for the 1.3 mill (wouldn't mind using up my allocated 14 lakhs). Maruti could've taken a cue from the whopping sales of their AT offering. Agreed, the AMT would be unfitting a premium C2, but the dual clutch was already in Suzuki's kitty. DDiS200 mated to a TCSS in Zeta flavour @ 12 lakhs ex-factory, IMHO, would have inflated the sales figures by a considerable margin! Just thinking - Maruti reliability + TCSS apprehensions = perfect combo of risk + reward.

d. Navigation from providers other than HERE. Only a personal preference, also due to the fact that I'm very familiar with google and also because the stock maps are really dated. The list of streets for smaller towns is disappointing. Hopefully, an update should make the overall experience better. What I like is the neutralised accent with voice assist.

Observations, post purchase - @500 KMS on the odo - 11-Oct

1. Build quality seemed best for a Maruti I've seen till date. The doors close with a very definitive, reassuring thud (Germans are still the leaders) and the the quality of the panels used is leaps better than on older siblings. The one really bothersome issue has been with latching the boot door. I seem to be able to do it right one out of four times, and number plate rattles as well. A similar issue remained unsolved in my Esteem for almost 8 years, until a driver noticing me bang the door repeatedly asked me to pull the "unlock" lever to again. Lo and behold! an almost decade old issue sorted out in no time.

2. The cladding on the sides, front and the rear is integrated very nicely - especially unlike hatch-turned-cross avatars like the Cross-Polo or Etios-Cross. Perhaps, the Avventura comes closest in design terms - lending the car a tough look.

3. The electrically foldable mirrors. A feature I'm beginning to take benefit of as much as the power windows themselves. What with two wheelers sqeezing through every available inch of space, it is very convenient to fold down the mirrors while waiting in long traffic signals. While the mirrors do fold sufficiently close to the doors, paint protection film is a must have.

4. Powerful AC sans dual zone. The climate control system is very effective, although gradual. The fans don't blow in full speed as soon as the temperature setting is input. Ducts at the back would've definitely added to the convenience.

6. The stock drivers (speakers) will not easily please an audiophile, but for someone who uses a 2 speaker stereo setup on a 7.2 channel AV Receiver, the system is satisfactory at best. I found the presets a tad bit boomy for my liking, but the equalisers do come handy to some extent.

7. Bluetooth integration works superbly well. My Jabra Wave no more accompanies me on my drives. The contacts and call list synced in a jiffy and I'm able to make and take voice calls in the least distracting way possible, although I prefer to dial out only when I'm stopped.

8. Fuel economy stands at 16.0 with almost all miles clocked in rush hour traffic, sans a trip to the airport.

Who moved the ducts?!

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Wide opening doors

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Mirrors fold as far as here

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Lots of space behind the rear bench

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Power socket, pilot lamp, low loading lip - practicality all around

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The cladding looks solid

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Summary of likes and dislikes

Thumbs up for:

1. The S-Cross is exactly what it claims to be

2. A proven, tried and tested engine delivers good all round performance

3. Safety, comfort and convenience kit

4. Appreciable level of premiumness and practicality

5. Excellent seating ergonomics; roomy, airy interiors

Thumbs down for

1. Way too much hype around NEXA

2. Front design and grille tad too conservative

3. Poor choice of tyres, alloys and accessories

Last, but not the least, many thanks to S2 & Rehaan for the brilliant and unbiased review, and to vid6639, volkman10, GTO, sandygordon, npv, sou_3749, Abhi99, sudeepg, Leoshashi, opendro, satishtv, Vigkey and other BHPians (sorry, I might've missed a few names), who contributed by way of their valuable comments in the official review thread.

Last edited by pannags : 7th November 2015 at 20:54.
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Old 24th October 2015, 00:00   #2
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Default Re: S-Cross DDiS200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

Upgrades, mods and accessories - Planned/In-Progress/Completed

The first accessory, a keyfob (came before the car):

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1. Tyres and alloys – Done

Swapped the JK Elanzo’s and wheel caps (dare disagree) within a week of delivery. The hunt began as soon as JKs were confirmed. The options considered included Michelin Primacy 3STs, Pirelli P4s and Goodyear Assurances. The tyre hunt proved stressful - Michelins seemed "perfect", but a popular multi-brand dealer warned me of many sidewall break cases. The Goodyears seemed VFM option, but I wasn't sure if they were a substantial upgrade to JKs. With confusion pervading, I finally decided to go the Pirelli way. On reaching the Indiranagar outlet of Sai Iyengar Tyres, I was informed that they did not have Pirellis in stock - a bit surprising since I'd mentioned my preference a week before. I eventually settled for Goodyears. While Michelins were really my first preference, apprehensions about the "softer" walls had me switch my mind.

As far the alloys, I narrowed down on Momo Next Anthracite Black and HRS 534 Machined Black. The rest is history.

The experience at Sai Iyengar Tyres deems recommendation. Ashwin and Keerthi were very patient with my queries and explained in detail about the all options I was considering. Ashwin stood by the commitment on the pricing offered over phone. Even though they did not have the Pirelli's in stock, I was not enticed to pick the Michelins. Their facility an Indiranagar is small and cannot handle more than two cars without intruding into the road, but the staff seemed to be well experienced and executed a neat swap job.

Since the alloys I ordered was delayed due to transportation, Keerti offered that I could drive upto 300 kms before the swap. However, I chose not to take the risk.

Cost and the outcome:

Tyres: 4 * (6000-4250) = 7000
Alloys: 4 * (7125-3000) = 16500

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The one difference I was able to make out between the stock tyres and the new ones was with a marginal increase in the ride quality, especially on even surface. The noise levels did not seemed to have changed at all - of course, I drove the JKs for less than 50 kms, which it too short to make an accurate assessment. Moreover, the engine noise easily overshadows that of the tyres at low-mid speeds to be able to appreciate the difference. Having driven the Goodyear assurances on the Ecosport on multiple long drives, the confidence to take on bad roads without having to worry about the tyres is definitely an added advantage. I'd have preferred the Bridgestones for their supreme reliability, but the lack of easy availability did not help.

The alloys, however, seemed to have made a substantial difference to the looks department! I noticed a lot more heads turn after the swap. I've always felt better better stock alloys, would've probably, marginally, increased initial sales. For instance, the ones on the Creta appear way more upmarket, while the ones on the Ecosport are classy.

2. 3M paint sealant and protection – After 1st service

One of the reasons for choosing the silver trim was the ease of maintenance that comes with shades like this (My Esteem is pearl silver in colour). The Premium Silver shade seemed to have a fair amount of grey gloss without appearing too dark, while quality felt closer to the likes of the Germans than the Japanese (The chipped part beside the door shows the depth). Would definitely want to keep the sheen protected on a periodic basis. I was a bit apprehensive about paint sealant from 3M as it apparently removes 4-6 microns of paint from the tens of reviews I've read on Team-BHP. With more 3M outlets springing up, competition seems to be intensifying as well, translating to pressure on the customer to opt for more services.

Paint protection film (Ah! PPF, like the fellows as 3M proudly say, almost as if to convey the imprudence of my ignorance) seems to be a big money grosser for 3M. While I was politely declined an appointment owing to the unprecedented festive rush, they were OK taking my car for PPF application. In fact, I'm being pushed to get the entire car covered for an estimated lakh and twenty thousand in return for being able to drive around with gay abandon! Left me wondering what B2B insurance was for and with the realisation that there is no end to this paranoia of safeguarding!

In the meanwhile, I'm also considering the offerings from Ultimate detailerz, who seem to have a few good reviews, but the distance to the workshop is almost a deal breaker.

3. Steering and door trim covers - After 1st service

Planning to get Karlsson (or equivalent) installed on one of the following weekends. I'm not in a compelling hurry (unlike with the tyres & alloys) as the stock wheel actually feels nice to clasp, thanks to the thin profile and the rubber compound being semi-hard. The one big turn off with after market wheel covers is that they render the wheel substantially thicker and therefore somewhat uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time. However, after looking at the workmanship in volkman10's car, I'm mighty impressed with how close the Karlssons have come to delivering stock-like finish, that too without dismantling the wheel.

4. HiD Projectors – After/during 2nd service

This is the only feature from the Alpha that I sorely miss. I'm looking at the the bi-Xenon projectors to add a solid finish to the front fascia and improve visibility in the night. I've have been inquiring about the same with the accessories team at Nexa Palace ever since we confirmed the Zeta trim. There have a been a variety of answers at different points in time, the last one being that Maruti did not encourage a swap at the workshop level as the relays, harness and wiring also need to be changed. I've expressed my disappointment quoting Skoda's dealership level swap available for the Rapid and that was countered with a promise to revert as soon they have anything new to share (nothing new from the accessories team). I'm hoping that they sort this one out before I'm due for the second service. My plan-B is to upgrade the stock bulbs to 90/100W (My Esteem runs on 90/100 W on a Hella kit, which including the bulbs cost me under 2000 bucks)

5. Seat covers - dropped as of now

The likes of Stanley and Karlsson clearly mention that they would remove the stock fabric covers before installing theirs. Stanley even removes a part of the cushioning material and reinforces the seats with their supposedly better foam. While this sounds good for the kind of money (seventy grand) I'm having to shell out, Marvin (showroom right next door my place) agreed to install covers on top of the stock fabric. However, I was warned that the finish would not be as good and firm as with removing the fabric completely.

On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised after I saw the stock fabric covers on the Zeta (Not sure if they are the same on the other trims). The all black theme with very elegant double stitching blends well with the interiors. The ergonomic design of the seats themselves, particularly lumbar support was firm and impressive. The prospect of having to remove the stock covers being a strict no-go and having experienced good interior cleaning services from 3M have compelled me to refrain from installing covers. For now, the insides are a no-food zone; for how long, no idea!

Top & side view of the stock seats - elegant pattern, firm seating with good lumbar support

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-seat_fabric.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-seat_support.jpg

6. Code 6 remap/RD box/Pete’s box – dropped as of now

A long drive to Coorg last week reaffirmed my belief in the DDiS200. As I'd already experienced in the long TD before confirming my booking and a subsequent one with a colleague, highway performance has been very satisfying indeed. The one trick that will come of help is to plan overtaking a little bit in advance, especially when cruising in top gear and having to speed up quickly.

I had a word with both Pete's and Code6, just for awareness's sake. Pete's haven't built a box for the S-Cross as yet, but have one that was meant for the SX4. Appears that will not be able to be plonked in the S-Cross. They claimed to start working on one as soon and promised to update me when that happens.

The Code6 team appeared to have multiple options for the 1.3 MJD, which according to Sanju, seemed to be a favourite candidate for their remaps. He was very confident that this particular engine could deliver much more than it was originally tuned for. Code6 offers trial runs before purchase and unlimited remaps to the stock settings, whenever needed. As with all remaps, I was advised to come down with my requirements clearly identified.

At the moment, however, I do not see the need to plonk a box or consider a remap for my driving needs - considering the performance of my car. Well! Nothing is etched in stone and as to whether I will be influenced by fellow BHPians considering one, will depend on their experiences and feedback.

Last edited by pannags : 7th November 2015 at 20:53.
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Old 5th November 2015, 15:10   #3
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Default Re: S-Cross DDiS200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

Above the ordinary?! Check it out yourself

Perspective. One of the better angles to appreciate the Crossover:

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-alloy_hrs_3.jpg

This one's for my desktop

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-scrossrefreshed-2.jpg

Minor change in the viewing angles:

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-att_2.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-att_3.jpg

As though as they come:

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-att_3.5.jpg

Did I say standing out in the crowd?

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-att_4.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-att2_5.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-att2_6.jpg

Uber cool tail lamp cluster:

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-tail_light.jpg

Above competition!? I'll leave that for the audience as well

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-competition_i.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-competition_iv.jpg

Or should we say, there's very little to choose between the two:

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-competitioniii.jpg
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Old 5th November 2015, 15:17   #4
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Default Re: S-Cross DDiS200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

Update after clocking 1000 KMs - our first long drive - 18-Oct

After clocking around 500 kms on the ODO, we were ready to embark on our first long drive in the S-Cross - expectedly, a much looked forward to trip given that the last couple of long drives were on the EcoSport.

We decided to take route via Mysore and planned to start from Bangalore in the early hours to avoid the mid-week vacation rush. Thanks to my work stretching till late in the evening on the previous day - wanted to make sure I get a good night's rest - we were able to start only by 7.15 am.

The traffic started to ease up once we crossed the outskirts and the remained unusually low all the way till Mysore. Since I hadn't crossed the 1000 kms on the ODO, I restrained myself to under 100 kmph - the cruise function came really handy here. I was able to engage cruise control on multiple stretches, sometimes for as long as 4-6 kms - I guess you need to be on a 4 lane barricaded expressway to be able to use it for longer. Usability was top notch - extremely easy to disengage, reengage or modify speed.

The road from Mysore to Kushalnagar is a two-lane carriageway, but was a pleasure to drive on - what with almost no traffic for many kilometers sans the ubiquitous intra-state carriers - the "auto pilot" again coming of use on many stretches. I may sound repetitive, but it would only be fair to give a big THUMBS UP for the ride and handling the S-Cross delivers. The repair patches and potholes (not too many, anyway) were ironed out without a fuss. The road grip, cornering, steering response and feedback exuded great amount of confidence.

If there is one thing about the car I have to pick, it's the ride and handling.

We completed the 230 kms drive, including the 30 minute halt, in about 5 hours time.

On our way back, before stopping for an overnight break at Mysore, we took a short deviation to drive through the Tibetan settlement (not the monastery itself, which we did visit the previous day) and the last 6-8 kms of the road connecting back to the state highway was close to non existent. While I pulled down to under 15 kmph, the ride turned bumpy. Wide potholes and uneven surfaces pose no problem for the car when driven at higher speeds, but the torsion beams and coil springs arrangement not being independent results in it getting bumpy at single digit speeds. Then again, as soon as we hit the state highway, the DDiS200 was back to where and what it does best - cruising in the range of 80-100 kmph, revving freely.

We stayed in in Kushalnagar, which is the gateway to Coorg and well before the ghats begin. Since we had enough time on the day of our departure, we drove up to Suntikoppa just to get a feel of how the car takes on the ghats. There was just no hint or sign of any lack of power, while a quick downshift to the 3rd gear helped quickly overtake slow moving vehicles. The cornering capability, again another big plus for the S-Cross, was very obvious.

Posting a few pictures

After 5 hours and 230 kms

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-coorgdusted.jpg

Alongside coffee estates enroute Suntikoppa

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-coorg_drivei.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-coorg_driveii.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-coorg_driveiii.jpg

Just before the lunch break enroute Bangalore @ exactly 1000 KMS on the ODO

read as ... 50% city - 50% highway

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-odo_1000avg.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-odo_1000agvc.jpg
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Old 5th November 2015, 15:23   #5
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Default Re: S-Cross DDiS200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

Update after the first service @1150 KMS on the ODO - 20-Oct

The first service was due immediately upon our return from Coorg and just before the festival weekend. A quick call to the RM and the appointment was scheduled. I was promised that a NEXA trained adviser would guide me through the process and explain the checks carried out.

The first surprise came upon reaching the service center - a hundred cars lined up for service and no sign of the NEXA adviser. I made a couple of frantic calls to the RM after which the adviser called me. I was promised that my car would be prioritised as I had clearly indicated my preference to stay back at the service center while my car was attended to.

If I have to sum it up in one sentence - the premium NEXA experience (whatever that means) ends with the dealership and I was transported back to the legacy Maruti world - long chaotic queues, crowded billing counters, noisy service areas. Amidst all this madness, the Maruti method could be seen at work, translating to happy cars and happier customers. The trained NEXA adviser apologised almost half a dozen times that he could not spend enough time to ensure my car was well cared for and also pointed out the the dedicated NEXA bay was in use for other cars to meet the festive demand.

While I'm sincerely hoping that the highly proclaimed "NEXA experience" also translates to better service management, it would be unfair to criticize my experience, given that the festival was just around the corner.

The first service cost me NOTHING, and included a thorough inspection, including trivial checks like the indicators, fog lamps, power windows etc. I complained about the trouble with closing the boot lid, and again, the service adviser got it right every time and I continued to struggle.

I was handed over the car after a quick test drive while the NEXA adviser took down my verbal feedback in the interest of time. The paint job for the chipping and scratch have been promised at my convenience.

Crowded is an understatement!

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-servicei.jpg

The engine bay - sparkling like new; all fluids topped up

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-serviceiii.jpg

Final inspection before delivery, no dedicated NEXA bays as yet

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-serviceii.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-servicefinal.jpg
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Old 9th November 2015, 11:17   #6
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Default Re: Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Initial Ownership Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 9th November 2015, 11:51   #7
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Default Re: S-Cross DDiS200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

Originally Posted by pannags View Post

Update after clocking 1000 KMs - our first long drive - 18-Oct
Congrats pannags on your latest acquisition and those rims look just 'Tailor Designed' for S-Cross buddy

I am sure the NVH levels may take some time getting used to for you, considering you are coming from an Esteem, but from personal experience, you will love the diesel for its highway runs.

Wish you a happy motoring and many mile munching


Alongside coffee estates enroute Suntikoppa
You know what, I have a funny feeling I saw you & your A350 at this junction while returning from Coorg. I remember noticing a S-Cross with some really smart rims parked on the shoulder, unable to put a finger on the shade I saw though
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Old 9th November 2015, 12:00   #8
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Default Re: Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

Congrats and wish you all the best. Nice ownership report. Liked the way you penned down the initial milestones (500 km, first long drive, service update etc..) before publishing the report. Being a new launch, those initial milestone observations will be quite useful for prospective buyers.

Once again hearty congratulations and wish you miles of happy ownership.
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Old 9th November 2015, 13:33   #9
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Default Re: Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

The more I see this vehicle, the more I like it. Getting majorly tempted to take the plunge

Many congratulations and wish you a million miles of safe and happy driving!


P.S: IMO, the coffee estate pic is better than the one that you've shortlisted for your desktop
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Old 9th November 2015, 18:04   #10
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Default Re: Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

Congrats pannags on your latest acquisition.

I can relate to your "Above the Ordinary" experience with the S Cross!

Wishing you a great ownership ahead!
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Old 19th November 2015, 15:47   #11
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Default Re: Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

Great review... am also getting tempted to get an S-Cross but will wait until the XA Alpha is launched. I believe discounts on S-Cross might just become higher when that launches and that's when I'll scoop in!

Wishful thinking at it's peak I guess
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Old 20th November 2015, 21:48   #12
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Default Re: Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

S-Cross looks fantastic in this colour.

This is the most under-rated car from Maruti. I never liked it earlier till i saw and sat in an S-Cross and i know there are many like me.
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Old 21st November 2015, 00:17   #13
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Default Re: Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

Fantastic review. I hope the sales figures improve in coming months. This car has no reason to fail looking at the quality and features it provides at such a reasonable on road price.

All the best to your ownership experience.
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Old 11th December 2015, 00:32   #14
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Default Re: Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

Update after the micro paint work and detailing at 3M - 26Nov

I finally got a chance to get the minor scratch beside the fuel tank and the long fine scratch on the bonnet fixed. The Service adviser at Mandovi took care to ensure that my car was attended to first, and therefore, the entire process was completed in under 3 hours. The car was completely cleaned inside out and delivered in a better condition than on the day of delivery.

Thereafter, I headed directly to 3M at Basaveshwara Nagar for the exterior treatments.

I opted for Paint Protection Film on the front and rear bumpers, fenders, mirrors and door handles. I also signed up for the annual package that included a Power Shine, a Paint Sealant Advanced, two GermKleen plus interior, a UV protect and five Complete Car Wash coupons.

Although there was no discount offered, the store manager (Aravind) agreed that I could use the Car Wash and GermKleen coupons beyond the twelve months.

The quality of work at this franchisee has always been very satisfying and it was no different this time around. Aravind explained the offerings and options in great detail and his team did an equally good job at executing them.

Posting a few pics.

The X-over gets a nice wash

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-prewash.jpg

"The Paint Sealant process"

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-paintsealant.jpg

"Applying Paint Protection Film"

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-ppf0.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-ppf1.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-ppf2.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-ppfbumper.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-ppfbumper2.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-ppffenders.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-ppffinishing2.jpg

Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!-ppfmirrors.jpg
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Old 11th December 2015, 18:51   #15
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Default Re: Maruti S-Cross DDiS 200 Zeta - The A350 cometh!

Originally Posted by pannags View Post

I opted for Paint Protection Film on the front and rear bumpers, fenders, mirrors and door handles.
Hi pannags,

Would you be able to share sqft rate for PPF. How do they measure area, are they charging for amount of sheet used from their roll or covered area?

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