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Old 22nd February 2010, 19:12   #1
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Smile New SX4 Zxi - French Eclair in the oven .. errr Garage

Note: These posts detail the entire shortlisting process all the way to delivery and initial impressions so it is going to be a bit long winded. Please bear with me.

I have been wanting to buy a car ever since I came back from the US a year back. But due to various other commitments, the decision kept getting put off.

During the course of the decision making process, I came across and joined Team-BHP and boy, let me tell you - thats one of the best things I ever did. Initially I just trawled through the various posts reading people's opinions and reviews of cars they owned or test drove and then started contributing and asking questions as well.

I had made up my mind to buy a Sedan and not a hatchback since I have been raised on Maruti 800s, Wagon R and Ritz and wanted a "badi gaddi" now. (well the first car my dad owned was a Standard Herald but I was too young to appreciate it).

Here's what I was looking for

I knew I wanted a reasonably recent model with ABS and EBD
Atleast the driver and passenger airbags.
Wanted it to be comfortable for 5 people
Good value for money.
Good after sales service
Easy to maintain
Spare parts costs should be reasonable
Good driving experience
Petrol car (my daily driving is around 40 kms)
So in a nutshell, I wanted it all!

The cars I shortlisted were:

Fiat Linea Emotion Pk
Ford Fiesta Sxi/S
Maruti Suzuki SX4 ZXi
Wild Card Entry: Hyundai i20 1.4

The cars I considered but rejected were:
Honda City (Felt it was too expensive for the features offered! But if anyone were to gift me a couple of lakhs, I would have gone for it in a flash)
Ford Ikon: Too old and did not have the features I was looking for.
Hyundai Accent: same as above
Hyundai Verna: Didn't like the shape and the fact that even the top end petrol version didn't have airbags!!

Will continue the shortlisting process in a different post for better readability.

Last edited by shreeps : 22nd February 2010 at 19:13. Reason: missed adding one shortlisting criteria
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Old 22nd February 2010, 20:27   #2
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Shortlisting process:

Fiat linea: I really loved the looks of the Linea and I had heard that the Fiat/Tata After Sales Service too was improving so wanted to test drive the petrol version (I don't drive enough in a month to justify the premium for a diesel version). The Emotion Pk met all my requirements to the T (atleast on paper).
I went on a saturday to the nearest Tata/Fiat dealership and started looking at the display Linea. I sat inside and liked the feel. Also liked the way the doors closed with a thud as opposed to a clank in some other cars I can name. Kept waiting for 10-15 mins and no one was showing any interest in enquiring if I needed any help. I even walked over to the Manza and marveled at the rear seat space but was put off by the plastic quality and the way the boot narrowed but still no one showed up.
Finally after hanging around for more than 20-25 mins I went to a showroom employee and said that I am interested in purchasing a Linea and that I want a test drive of the petrol version. He said that the vehicle is not available since its gone for maintenance (wondered why they would service the vehicle on a Saturday when they would presumably get most enquries). Anyway, as asked by the chap, I gave him my name and phone number with a promise that I will be called as soon as the vehicle is available. I waited till the following Friday but received no response. I tried contacting the other Tata/Fiat dealer in the city and asked for a test drive but was told that they cannot send the car to my house for a test drive since they have to keep it available in the showroom for walk in customers!!. After waiting for 1 week, I wrote a polite e-mail to the Fiat CEO (Thanks Team BHP for helping me get the e-mail ID) about the problems I was facing trying to get a test drive. This seemed to stir things up somewhat and I got frantic calls from the showroom sales manager, receptionists etc promising a test drive ASAP. However there were still a couple of false starts from the dealership before they finally sent over the car to my house for a test drive.

Here are my impressions after the test drive:

Great to look at (admiration guaranteed)
Filled to the brim with features - blue and me, rear AC vent, steering controls, ACC, Driver arm rest, rear window sun shade, trip and information readout
Nice and Spacious
Big boot
Solidly built
Comfortable driving position
Rear seat ingress and egress was easy for my parents
Well planted and easy to maneuver
Very thoughtful features - no hinge in boot freeing up extra space, follow me home lights etc

Felt a bit underpowered
Quality of plastics was below par
Spare wheel NOT an alloy
Ground clearance seemed less and we scraped the bottom a couple of times on speed breakers with 4 people in the car
Large turning radius

Bottom line: I loved the car and felt that I could live with the negatives. However was very concerned about the after sales service and overall quality.

Ford Fiesta SXi: I had put in test drive requests on the websites of Ford, Fiat, Maruti and Hyundai. Ford was the only one who acted on the request, contacted me and sent a car over for test drive within 24 hours. The sales person was knoweldgeable and friendly. I drove the fiesta over the same route as the Linea I had driven earlier. and here are my feelings:

Absolutely a pleasure to drive
Wonderful and responsive engine
Comfortable driving position
Good fit and finish

Smaller boot compared to others
Felt overall smaller than the competitors
Did NOT have ACC
Did NOT have steering mounted audio controls
Spare wheel NOT an alloy
Did NOT have rear AC vent
Had leather upholstery which I did not want
Lack of authorized service stations
Perceived high cost of spares

Bottom line: A fun car to drive but appeared less value for money compared to others. Also when I talked to the sales rep, found that there were no discounts available (since I did not qualify for corporate discount). They were only willing to give me accessories as freebies (which i felt would be overprices at the dealer anyway). Besides, I was interested in the S or sports version and the sales person said that it wouldnt be available for a couple of months at least.

Maruti Suzuki SX4 ZXi: I called a dealer and the sales rep came over with a white SX4 without any demo car stickers and the odometer disconnected. When I pointed this out, he gave some lame excuse that this was the demo vehicle but not registered with RTO yet so that's why he disconnected the odometer. The drive over the same terrain showcased the advantages of the huge tires (compared to others) in soaking up bumps and craters on the roads. Also felt like I was driving a mini SUV

Was big and and spacious
Tremendous road presence
Good driving position
Good ground clearance
The new VVT engine was much better than the earlier one and was more responsive
Steering mounted audio controls
Spare wheel IS an alloy
Easy ingress and egress
Big Boot

Engine not as good as fiesta
Road handling not as good as linea
No cup holders in rear arm rest
No rear ACC vents
Center rear seat still uncomfortable due to arm rest but much better than earlier
Turning radius was only slightly better than linea

Bottom Line: Very sensible car for the price which meets most of the criteria. Reasonable fun to drive with the VVT engine.

Hyundai i20 1.4: I had heard that the i20 gave you all the features of a sedan with all the advantages of a hatchback and I thought that I would consider this as well with the others. However, test drive request on the website elicited one response with no follow up from any dealer. I went to the nearest Hyundai dealer on my own to check out the car and was informed that there is no test drive vehicle available for the 1.4. Also, I was told that there would be a 2 month waiting period which was not acceptable to me. So dropped the idea of the i20.

Time for decision making!!

In my mind, it really boiled down to these three factors:
Looks - Linea
Performance - Fiesta
Bit of both + worry free experience - SX4

I was worried about the after sales service from Tata/Fiat since I had had a bad pre sales experience (if they behave like that before I even buy the car, what will their attitude be once I am committed??). Besides, I saw a lot of niggling problems on T-BHP forums on Linea rusting + plastic issues and that put me off too. So reluctantly I decided to vote against the Linea.

That left the Fiesta and SX4. Though I really loved the driving pleasure the Fiesta gave me, I decided against it due to the fact that there were no discounts available and there is no A** near my house. I also very much wanted the ACC which wasnt available with it.

Hence by the process of elimination, I decided on the SX4.

Now I had the task of contacting all the Maruti Suzuki dealers in the city and seeing who would give me the best price and go ahead with the booking process. I also needed to finalize the colour.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 21:13   #3
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Booking Process:
I contacted almost all the Maruti Suzuki dealers in the city to get comparative quotes and some more test drives to get a better feel for the car. My dad had an old Wagon R that we wanted to exchange, so we wanted to get a good valuation for that as well.

The surprise was that I got the *VERY SAME* price quotes and discounts from *ALL* the dealers I contacted. Hmmm either Maruti mandates that the ex showroom price should be same across all the dealers in the city or there is some kind of cartel formation going on here.

That being the case, the final decision would depend on who gave me the best price for the trade in vehicle and what additional discounts would be given beyond the standard 15k cash discount and 15k exchange bonus being offered by all the dealers in Jan.

The valuation for the trade in car ranged from Rs. 90k to Rs. 125k (it was a 10 yr old wagon r with just around 55k on the odo and in pretty good condition)

I obviously went with the dealer who offered me 125k and I booked during a "car mela" so would get a free "reebok kit". I was also offered 5k in accessories. Now the twist in the tale is that the day I booked the car, Maruti increased the price of the car by around Rs. 1600. So I managed to convince the dealer to give me the 5k as additional cash discount instead of free accessories worth that amount. This leaves me free to get the accessories from outside at much lower rates . I also wanted to book the car and invoice it before the end of Jan so that I am protected in case of any price hike in Feb before the car is actually delivered (in case there is a price drop I would lose but I decided to take the chance and lock myself in with the Jan rates).

I chose the newly launched French Eclair color which I and Wifey both liked. The Faux wooden trim on the door also goes with this colour..

The booking was done on Jan 17th and Invoicing done on Jan 30th. However I had to go out of station from Feb 3rd till Feb 14th and unfortunately the car hadn't arrived till the time I left.
With perverse pleasure, it arrived on Feb 5th and lay in the stockyard till the 15th when I came back.
I did a PRI on the 15th and ensured that though a bit dusty, there were no scratches or other issues. The odo was connected and showed 6.5 Km which seemed reasonable.
I made the final payment (apparently since the trade in car was on my dad's name and the new car in mine, they needed to issue a check to my dad for the amount and I needed to issue them a check for the same amount ... duhh) on the 16th and also filled out the RTO forms.
They waited one day for the check to be credited and then registered the car. I collected the car on the 18th at the dealership with a little ceremony. The odo reading during delivery showed 12.5 km and this too was pretty good.
It was an overall good experience apart from some small things like unable to answer some questions about the car stereo and ACC while demoing it before delivery. Let me unveil the name of the Dealership - it is Wonder Cars at Chinchwad, Pune and the sales person is Amol.
A special mention is due here for the sales person Amol B. He was very professional and responsive in dealing with my numerous queries and also honoured all verbal commitments that he made. Also got the car to my house and office for a number of test drives till I was satisfied. Never did he put on extra pressure or misrepresent any information. Kudos to him and his ilk.
Initial ownership report:
Having driven the car for around 250km so far, here is my feedback:
It is fun to drive and gives a big car feel. People do move out of the way which never used to happen in hatchbacks. The clutch is very smooth - much better than the earlier SX4 and even the VVT test drive vehicles. The gear throw is also short and sweet. Both the clutch and gear shif are much better than the Ritz which my dad bought recently.
The ACC is awesome and chilling, but the logic of when it starts taking in outside air Vs. when it recirculates needs to be figured out. The steering though light is responsive and weighted enough to give confidence at higher speeds (I have touched 90 till now). Being in the running in period, I am trying to curb my enthusiasm and keep the RPMs low. I have touched a max of 2500 rpm occasionally and usually not more than 2000 which I hope is ok.
The music system is ok and is good enough for me.
The rear sure is huge and I am still getting used to it.
I havent changed the stock JKs and find them pretty ok (not as noisy as I feared) and will probably use them till the end of their natural life.
I put in a full tank of petrol and am waiting for the indicator to come down to around 3/4 empty before I top up again and calculate the FE.


I plan to get the following accessories:
Side and Rear films for the windows (3m RE with 50% and 70% visibility respectively)
Door sill guards
Suede upholstery seat covers
Stanley leather Steering wheel cover
Acorn or Autocop parking sensors

Thank you everyone for reading this and do let me know if you have any questions!!

I will shortly upload a few photos I managed to take in the stockyard using my camera phone for now till I take more photos of the car.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 21:22   #4
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Congrats shreeps . That was a nice and detailed buying experience.

Looking forward to the photos.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 21:26   #5
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Nice review but you didn't mentioned that your SX4 is automatic or manual and what was the on road price ?
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Old 22nd February 2010, 21:32   #6
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Congrats buddy on your new purchase. Waiting for the pics.
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Old 22nd February 2010, 21:35   #7
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Some initial photos as promised. Will take more over the next few days and update.
Attached Thumbnails
New SX4 Zxi - French Eclair in the oven .. errr Garage-stockyard1_re.jpg  

New SX4 Zxi - French Eclair in the oven .. errr Garage-stockyard2_re.jpg  

New SX4 Zxi - French Eclair in the oven .. errr Garage-stockyard3_re.jpg  

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Old 22nd February 2010, 22:19   #8
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Congratulation shreeps !!!! Good color. A distinct one...
SX4 really a great VFM car.It offers almost all the features as ANHC.
Have you TD the automatic one??
How is the suspension now, in comparison to old model SX4 ?
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Old 22nd February 2010, 22:20   #9
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Congrats shreeps... Seems a different color, atleast, I am seeing the first time !
Good luck and have a safe ride and enjoy !

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Old 22nd February 2010, 22:34   #10
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Congratulations on your purchase , welcome to the club. Mine's a non VVT.

She looks nice with the French shade.

A few more pictures would be highly appreciated.

Drive safe & happy motoring...
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Old 22nd February 2010, 23:41   #11
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Congrats chreeps. I just love this color from Maruti - it even makes the estillo look good!
Post a few pics after you have the accessories stacked up.
Any particular reason you want to go for suede upholstery and not leather/PU?
Keep posting!
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Old 23rd February 2010, 09:40   #12
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congratulations dude. I am big fan of this color on SX4. It looks very good and yummy!. One of my colleague who Team bhp member too got this color in SX4.

Please post some pics with better backgrounds. The one posted here have too much distraction in background n lighting isn’t so good!

Have safe miles ahead
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Old 23rd February 2010, 13:11   #13
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Congrats on the buy. The color is completely different.
Is this the same color available in Ritz as well?
Its a VFM buy.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 13:52   #14
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Welcome to the SX4 club man.Its an awesome car to drive and you feel like driving a mini SUV.

One suggestion would be to change the JK Vectras for Michelin Primacy.Makes a lot of difference.
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Old 23rd February 2010, 14:48   #15
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Congratulation Shreeps on your new buy. SX4 VVT is a great vehicle to ride. Do post some interior pics when you have fixed the seat covers.

Congratulations again
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