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Old 2nd November 2006, 16:20   #1
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Default And finally the Head ruled over the Heart!

9 months of research — going thru various Car magazines, internet, and endless Test Drives — finally resulted in buying a C-segment car recommended by everyone and which I somehow never wanted. You guesses it right — Honda City ZX.

My requirements were — A 1400-1600cc family car with a boot, self driven 1000 km pm, 95% city driving, budget 6-7 lacs. Looks as well as the music system were important after having compromised on buying the ugly duckling Santro (as it was in 2000) based on its performance. The seating position should be high up (Hyundai Accent & Maruti Baleno, the old horses were rejected due to low seating positions).

What I had against NHC? Well to start with it had that stiff upper lip kind of a look & too much visibility on the roads. I, for one, like the retro-look, would prefer a BMW to a Merc any day. NHC as I could see was a city car and that’s it no more. A predominately chauffeur driven car, not for a driving enthusiast (non-VTEC). Low ground clearance & delicate built were an inhibition to carefree driving. Another thing which kept troubling me was those SVRMs. I found every second NHC with one of those missing. And they cost nothing less than 3k. And finally its cost was over my budget. The Exi version’s (closer to my budget) interiors were not appealing & Gxi version’s beige interiors were prone to get dirty very soon.

Launch of Ford Fiesta opened new vistas. I decided to take a test drive. 1.4 Exi was fine, though lacking the excitement of 1.6 version. Negatives were — the black surround around the head lamps looked very cheap, the rear defogger was missing & the cheap quality plastics used. The 1.6 version was just GREAT to drive — gearing, pick-up & smoothness — too good. A truly driver’s car. I felt totally at home on the first drive itself. The retro-look, solid feel and peppiness of the engine made me feel great behind the wheel. Went home too excited & started to look around for the feedback from Ford owners, friends & relatives. They all were unanimous in their feedback — don’t ever buy a Ford vehicle. Why—cost of ownership & poor resale value. I was shocked & simply could not gather enough courage to follow my heart. To add to all this Ford India’s decision to jack up the Fiesta’s price despite reduction in Custom’s duty after budget was the final nail in the coffin. Two other points worth mentioning are—Ford offers 1 yr warranty against 2 yrs by competitors. And cost of extending the warranty also is max. in case of Ford. I thought let’s wait for Chevrolet Aveo which was just round the corner. Fiesta, is a car designed keeping Indian requirements in mind, has suffered due to Ford India’s policies. I understand the engine is totally imported so probably is the gear box — its two best features. Quality of plastics, paint and also after sales service is what Ford India is responsible for & it is where it loses. Take a look at the finish of the plastic lever which releases the steering for tilt adjust—it is pathetic. The music system is not good & yr desire to change it could make the warranty void. The paint looses its shine too quickly. And poor service is legendary.

Aveo could never excite me but has bit of everything—good looks & interiors with use of good quality material, a decent drive, plus a Chevrolet badge. Negatives — uncomfortable driving position: the left knee kept banging against the dashboard; if you pull the seat back, you literally hv to reach out for the steering. The part of the dashboard under the front glass is of beige colour which reflects under sunlight so that at times you are almost blinded. The fuel efficiency of GM cars is a suspect. The much maligned gear shift never really bothered me. The fully loaded 1.6 version was the one which got me interested. It looked classy with those chrome pull-out type door handles & costed 7.12L on-road with expected FE of 10 kmpl. The price was mouth watering for the extras it came loaded with. Specially comparing it with NHC, NHC seemed definitely overpriced. But market feedback was required. Almost 4-5 months from the launch there were absolutely no Aveos to be seen on Delhi roads. Aveos were selling just about 800 per month — not good for a new car. Auto magazines & Owner’s feedback on the internet gave a mixed response. Magazines preferred the 1.4 version to 1.6 to my disappointment in terms of engine refinement. The car’s future along with GM looked uncertain & resale value questionable. Honda City still retained its Number One position in C-segment.

In Aug. a newspaper adv. caught my eye — Fiat Palio Adventure at 5.21L ex-showroom Delhi. Adventure was a new name for me but with its SUVish look it looked great. I called 5-6 dealers, but none had it in display. I found the specs from Fiat website. Owner’s feedback on indiacar.com, team-bhp & mouthshut.com were almost unanimous — it was a great pseudo-SUV at a mouth-watering price (< 6L on-road). One of the owner’s feedback mentioned the car was bought from Vivek Automobiles, who to my great relief, had it in display. At the showroom, a Formula-Red Adventure stood glaring at me. It certainly looked different & bullish in a sense. It had that retro-look, a car which can take a rough with the smooth, a car for all occasions. The car looked solidly built (I was made to hold the bonnet—my God it was heavy). Those Pirelli tyres, the bull bar, three stage door, sliding spare wheel, roof-rails, cladding all around & tank-like built made it look awesome. However, a look inside revealed dated interiors — a sure disappointment. The pluses were the leather strapped steering & gear knob, aluminium pedals & folding rear seats (which could liberate tonnes of space at the rear). My heart yearned for a test drive. The drive was unbelievable. The pick-up, the ride and the road grip were just too good. The rough roads (on which I just drove my Santro very carefully) and speed breakers did not pose any problems. I simply wanted to pack my bags and drive off on an adventure. Okay it didn’t hv a boot but my deep down yearning of owning a SUV was getting fulfilled. Only two question marks remained — dreaded Fiat FE and after-sale service. Acc to Topgear magazine FE was 9 kmpl in city conditions. Market feedback said Fiat-Tata deal was there to stay and improved service & spare availability.

[SIZE=2]Meanwhile, Hyundai Verna was launched on 25 Sept. Since I wanted the car before 30 Sept to avail depreciation benefits, I rushed to the nearest showroom. Only the diesel version was available for a test drive. The petrol version Xi model was on display. It only reconfirmed my feelings about Hyundai — they hvn’t got their aesthetics correct. Right from earlier Santro to earlier Sonata to Elantra to Getz, everytime the same view is reinforced. Even the colours in which cars are available, are not exciting except for the universal black, white or silver. Further, the dealer confirmed that the car cannot be delivered before 30 Sept, therefore its idea was dropped immediately. I like to add, I hv been a satisfied owner of Hyundai Santro for more than six yrs now. Nice vehicle, with good after sales service.

It finally came to choosing between two absolutely different cars — NHC Gxi & Fiat Adventure. NHC Gxi priced at 7.8L & Fiat Adventure at 5.8L. A difference of 2L in price so also in the FE — NHC 14 kmpl & Adventure 9 kmpl. The fuel cost for 5 yrs based on prevailing rates came to be 2.1L for NHC & 3.3L for Adventure. So I was just spending 1.2L more on fuel over a period of 5 yrs but still saving 2L on the basic cost—not bad. Expected resale value of NHC was about 3.5L after 5 yrs & that of Adventure 2.5L. So after spending 2L more initially you are getting 1L more in case of NHC. From the point of economics neither of them was hugely favoured. From the point of drive, ride & safety, Adventure scored ahead. NHC was much ahead in quality of interiors & snob-value.

I finally left the decision to my family as it was supposed to be a family car. When they saw Adventure from inside, it was immediately rejected—uncomfortable seats & below par interiors (I had earlier rejected Baleno for similar reasons). It was also pointed out that we are not buying a car for those 5% adventure trips but 95% daily commuting on good Delhi roads—valid point (but heart said it was those 5% adventure trips one remembers all his life and not daily commuting). Finally NHC won not because of quality of drive, ride & safety (all those things for which you buy a car) but pure aesthetics, luxury & commonsense.

One month, 1000km later I’m satisfied if not excited with the decision. For the snob value, it is surely neighbour’s envy owner’s pride. The gear shift was giving a little problem before first service. I was told the problem was with the clutch. Better now. FE before first service 10-11 kmpl with A/c. Till now the bottom has touched the speed breakers just once. Got 3M coating done but its not much help from minor scratches. The car is decent to drive with a very smooth engine. Hv not really pressed the pedal so far as advised. But I think at this price one deserves at least 100 horses & not just 78.

Last edited by aah78 : 11th November 2006 at 03:09.
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Old 2nd November 2006, 16:43   #2
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LOL, Great writeup. Thats some first post from you.

I do agree that the NHC = Mr. Practicality. And really the safest choice. The Ford has its reputation which scares people away, and so does Fiat. Buttttttttttttttttttt why didnt you consider the Verna more closely? Or the recently price-revised Corolla?

Anyways Congratulations. The NHC wont let you down.

Last edited by GTO : 2nd November 2006 at 16:46.
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Old 2nd November 2006, 16:56   #3
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Really nice review, RAGG. Pleasure to read. Enjoy your car!
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Old 2nd November 2006, 17:12   #4
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Very useful review RAGG. Must read for whose posting in 'What-Car' section for those looking for 5L-8L range cars.
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Old 2nd November 2006, 17:39   #5
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Excellent review !! You have nicely converted your thought processes into the article....Kudos! Enjoy your city

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Old 2nd November 2006, 17:43   #6
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Very well written. Keeping in mind reliability of jap cars, I am sure your new vehicle will serve you well. Congratulations. Drive safe.
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Old 2nd November 2006, 17:48   #7
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Nice review there RAGG. Good to see more people from Delhi joining on the site. We would also be very glad to see you at the next meet that we are having, you can follow the discussion here:

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/team-b...-november.html (Delhi Meet - November)
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Old 2nd November 2006, 18:18   #8
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Nice write up !! COngrats on the car !!
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Old 2nd November 2006, 18:25   #9
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Very well written and this was only your first post,expecting many more like these.
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Old 2nd November 2006, 22:28   #10
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congrats for your new car ..........
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Old 2nd November 2006, 22:43   #11
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Heya RAGG congrats on ur new car and that was a veryyyy well written article
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Old 2nd November 2006, 22:49   #12
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congrats on ur new car, nhc is fun to drive and will be a good companion too.

i too bought a nhc for my parents in august , the only difference being i ws firm on nhc keeping in mind the budget.

i bought an nhx gxi and havent even for a day regretted the decision.

now that u have already indulged , enjoy urself throughly.

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Old 2nd November 2006, 23:32   #13
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Congrats dude. NHC is not a bad car but a car with not gr8 looks.

Though i am amazed with your calculations plus a nice writeup
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Old 3rd November 2006, 00:42   #14
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NHC ZX is the kind of car that grows on you. Something that you tend to like more by each passing day.
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Old 3rd November 2006, 08:04   #15
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Default Adventure..... !!!

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Last edited by GTO : 11th November 2006 at 13:12.
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