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|26th June 2010, 18:13||#1|
How I bought a car (Pre-owned Paprika Red Ford Fiesta 1.4 Duratorq Zxi)
This is the story of how I ended up buying my Fiesta. And a long story it is, make no mistake (notice the thread title?). Consultants have to be precise, my company says. Be crisp, my boss says. 30 minutes for a shower?!, my mom says. 2 hours at the gym?!, my gf says. Well, I like things long and slow, I say! Brevity, you are such a pain in the n*ck! Thank you TBHP, for on this, you have nothing to say. (Or do you? We will find out soon enough!)
So here it is, this magnum opus of my brief and hitherto-anonymous writing career, this unshackled tome unleashed upon unsuspecting humanity, this unnecessarily long epic purporting to be an initial car ownership review (hah!), and its thankfully divided into several stages. But that only means this author thinks he now has the license to go into the very depths of his buying process. So reach out for your pillows men and women – after two thankfully short paragraphs, the real story finally begins now…
Stage 1: Initiation
So here I was, just about settled into a new city, new house and new job when the urge began - I would love to have a car! But I grappled with the thought, did I really need one? I was taking a taxi to work and back, and though it was not a pleasant experience often, it suited me just fine. Apart from the slight improvement in commute quality, a car of my own would probably make it nice for travel during the weekends when I am out with the gf etc. But that’s not really a significant amount of travel now – she stays close by. So here I was, considering a car purchase for a clearly marginal amount of utility. (I was/am going through an ascetic phase where I try to question all materialism). Besides, I didn't like the idea of taking a personal car down to work either (I strongly believe in public transport). Well…had tried using local trains for a while, but the Railways make it a point to make train travel as inconvenient and painful as possible (I have a long series of blog posts ranging from raving rants to detailed doctoral dissertations on this topic, so will keep that jarring subject aside here). Net net I had been pushed away from my dear public transport to taxis, and now to potentially a private car?! The heights of unnecessary luxury, screamed my conscience.
So my ‘want’ remained in limbo for a while, balanced out by my non-need. Then the ugly face of Mumbai taxidom reared up. Gf and I would be left fuming as weekend after weekend, taxiwallahs refused to go anywhere we wanted to go to. Some samples:
Phoenix Mills bhaiyya? Nahi chalenge. Antop Hill boss? Nahi. Taxi! Parel jaoge? No reply, just zooms off. Marine Drive chalo. Deafness. ABE HAAN YA NA KUCH TO BOL! Zooms off.
Notice how my courteousness gradually evaporated in the face of such practiced indifference. Almost lashed out at one or two specimens for being so rude over and above not going where we wanted to go to. Tried calling police helplines a couple of times – the taxiwallahs just threw across a couldn't-care-less attitude. Gradually the gf began hinting that a private car would be oh-so convenient. Hint taken. The journey begins.
Stage 2: Exploration
March-April 2010. The Ford Figo is about to be launched. Ripples all over Team-BHP. Excited whisperings about a sub-5 lakh fully loaded car. After all its a Fiesta without the boot, and at that price! The car interests Buddha. This could be it for him! All the car he needs, and at a price that would go some way in assuaging his ascetic beliefs.
To be continued...
|26th June 2010, 20:22||#2|
Stage 2: Exploration
February-March 2010. The Ford Figo is about to be launched. Ripples all over Team-BHP. Excited whisperings about a sub-5 lakh fully loaded car. After all its a Fiesta without the boot, and at that price! The car interests Buddha. This could be it for him! All the car he needs, and at a price that would go some way in assuaging his ascetic beliefs.
So I was really thrilled about the Figo. Its looks were clearly ho-hum, but it looked like a killer value proposition. As I said, it would go some way in assuaging my beliefs – not to mention, helping me keep my wallet in good shape! A rewind now (the Context slide, as I am told to put it)…
After the hints had been dropped by the gf, I had checked out prices (on-road) for all the large hatches. They were all depressingly high – partially because I was only interested in a car with ABS and Airbags, and they only appear on the top variants. The Swift Zxi was selling for 6.1 lakhs; the Vxi with ABS for 5.4 (both with 2 month waiting periods to boot!). The Punto was selling for some 6.3 or so for the Emotion/Emotion Pack (don't remember too well); and the i20 was priced even higher – 6.5 lakhs for the Asta. Into this pack was coming the Figo, with Ford’s driving dynamics at a price of what, 5.35 lakhs for the fully loaded ‘Titanium’ model? So claimed Mustang on Team-BHP. I waited with bated breath for March 9, when the Figo prices would be officially confirmed. The suspense was killing me. Now I was regularly reading Team-BHP, and somewhere in the back of my mind it struck me that this is no random fly-by-night online forum. Anyhow, April 9 finally dawned, and the Figo was priced some 15k lower than Mustang’s estimates! 5.27 lakhs it was. Brillianto!
The Figo Test Drive
I went to a Ford dealership on a Saturday soon after. Bhavna Ford in Kalina. This was my first visit to a showroom in years, but had things changed so much? I was expecting a glitzy showroom with at least 6-7 smoothly polished cars shining under the lights. Reality bites. I couldn't find the dealership for a while – ran up and down the main road twice or thrice, then figured that the showroom was indeed actually down that battered side-lane that looked like it would end up on the banks of the Mithi nallah. Well, walked down that path, and found out that it was actually a workshop retrofitted into a mini-showroom. Oh so that's why its so inconspicuous and small…well, fine by me. There was space for only one car inside (occupied by a Fiesta), so all the 6-7 Figos they had were outside in the dustbowl of a ground, and all were in that fluorescent green color, with dried blood color dashboards. Argh why no cars in red (outer color)?! But not the color, my first impression was, Whoa…it’s so small! And that was the predominant feeling even after the test drive was done: of smallness. The Fiesta never had much interior space, so I didn't expect much from the Figo, but even on the exterior, the bonnet had been shortened! I parked it right next to a Fiesta to figure it out. Guess it was thanks to the 4 meter rule that the bonnet was shortened, and the front and rear overhangs were also tiny. I was disappointed because it looked much smaller than a Swift or Punto now, closer to a Palio and more like a bulked up Zen (due to the low stance). Apart from that, the interiors were ok, ride was fabulous as expected, and dash was fine (I didn't really mind it at that stage). On the engine front, the threads were all agog about the Diesel, but I found it to have shockingly high NVH levels – now that I write about it I think it may have been a problem with that particular car. The petrol was super smooth though – while idling I had to rev it to figure if it was on or not. So overall I left a happy man, if a bit discontent due to the size. I could live with that though – the Swift Zxi was a good 80k more, right?
The Swift Test Drive
I took the Swift TD right after the Figo one, and I immediately realized that the Figo was a compromise for its price. It was all the interiors’ fault – had seen them the Swift interiors a million times before, but in comparison to the Figo the plastics quality now looked amazing. And this was the Zxi, so it had a sweet looking 2-din stereo with nice knobby buttons – a far cry from the built-to-a-price silver 2-din in the Figo (and with flat buttons at that!). The climate control also helped it look like a much nicer place to live in. Figo loses in the first round itself. I need my large hatchback to have large doses of the feel-good factor, and the Figo missed out.
The Ritz Test Drive
While at Maruti, I asked for a Ritz test drive as well, and was taken to a yummy chocolate colored Ritz Zxi. Hmm…this looks good, I thought. Same platform, fresher looks and some 30k price differential variant-to-variant (15k price difference + 15k dealer discount on the Ritz). The Ritz Zxi had a higher differential since it didn't have climate control. The engine was far quicker than the Swift, which was a surprise. Then I figured that the dealer had not cared to update his Swift TD car to the new, K-Series variant. Fool! So its all square on the engine front, but somehow the car didn't make me delighted. The dash's design, its blue color, the car’s outer design – all were more modern, yet they were also quirky and perhaps a bit kiddish. The gear level's placement on the central console summed it up – this car was as big and good as a Swift, but it still made me feel like I was in an oversized, modernized Wagon R. Besides, the 30k price advantage would probably convert to a 20k disadvantage when it would be time to sell the car. Hence Swift leads the pack beating the Ritz and Figo.
The i20 Test Drive
Boy this car blew the Swift away and how! I hadn’t been in an i20 before, so I couldn't imagine why Hyundai was selling it at such a premium to the Swift. Hadn’t they learnt anything from the Getz pricing debacle? However I loved the exteriors, so thought it warrants a dekko. Have you seen the new Indica Vista DriveTech4 ad?
This is exactly how I felt when I sat in the i20 for the TD. Right as we enter the car, I notice the *amazing* dash.
My two cribs with this gem of a car have to be: the car doesn't handle so nicely, and the petrol is a wee bit underpowered, but I didn't realize these things until my open-mouthed spell went away a couple of days later!
But seriously…Remote folding mirrors! <shakes head>
The Jazz Test Drive
I knew this car was 8.5 lakhs, and I knew I wouldn't buy it, but I am a car fan and I love the Jazz’s looks goddamit, so I still went! Fabulous car no doubt, but the i20 just killed it. If the i20 hadnt been in the market, I would have thought the Jazz to be good VFM – it offers tons more feel-good factor for 3 lakhs more over the Swift. The price is in a way justified boss – think of it as a Honda City with smaller engine, but waay better looks and dashboard for 2 lakhs lesser. But I guess City buyers want the 3-box shape for image purposes, and hatch buyers can buy the i20. I didn't have the budget to buy the Jazz anyway, but what sealed the issue was the fact that it had – guess what – no remote folding ORVMs or even remotely adjustable ones . But kudos Honda, you sell a car with ABS and Airbags standard on even the lowest variant! Hats off!
Now comes Stage 3, the indecision.
|27th June 2010, 00:12||#5|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Aug 2007
Thanked: 642 Times
Usually i never read most of the reviews completely. But, i really liked the way you have narrated the things here and it forced me to read completely. It seems that you test drove almost all the hatchbacks :-D Just kidding.
Congratulations on your Ford Fiesta. Waiting for pictures. I hope that you'll be uploading a couple of pictures. Keep us updated.
Happy and Safe motoring.
|27th June 2010, 01:16||#6|
Thank you, thank you all, for the generous words! This appreciation is not good at all for my ego I tell you
|27th June 2010, 01:30||#7|
Stage 2 Redux (The Exploration continues)
Wow Tarun Sachin Schoudhary and Klub. You guys just made my day But be warned, most of my previous attempts at writing to an audience have failed spectacularly, so I have learnt to squirrel away any and all praise that comes my way. And with not one, not two, but four doses of appreciation, I might be tempted to just stretch my thread on ad infinitum! Stage 3 will have to wait for its turn, this post is all about more Stage 2! I had been in a rush towards the end of post 2, so will now leisurely go back and add what I missed first.
More dope on the Jazz
I really found the Jazz dash to be amazing, and those magic seats were really magical. And the looks! Ooh boy the looks – super-taut lines and heavenly side profile, almost everything about the car’s looks was good. The front was probably the weak link (I would have styled them headlamps differently), but the rear is just awesome! There is nothing radical about it, but the entire rear just somehow clicks. But then the i20 was always snapping at its heels in each department. I asked the salesman, do you happen to have any used Jazzes (plural is what: Jazzi? Jazz?). He says yes sir, there is one for 6.5 lakhs. Now that's not a bad deal at all, 2 lakhs off for an 8 month old car, and being sold by a Honda dealership. But I told him, hey I could get a new i20 for the same price! The look on his face was priceless! He recovered and then began tell me about badge value and snob value and all of that, but his quarry had long flown!
When I first saw its pics I was like “Ooh not bad”. Then I saw it in the flesh…and I only said, “not bad”. Ideally I should have fallen in love with the car – it does look smashing in the flesh, and all the more so in that violent red. But my heart was still with the i20 you see. It would require a brilliant all-round product for me to change my top billing. Saw the prices first, hmm, on par with the i20, no Jazz like shocks. Noticed the price differential between the variants. Shmart move VW! Price the base version super-low to get loads of attention, but price the fast-selling mid and higher variants fairly high, with the kit differences not making up for the additional dough. OT: Some colleagues of mine *to-date* think the Polo is a cheap car. How do I explain all this variant-kit_levels-sales_mix business to them? Have that Kotler or whoever fellow write about it in his Pricing book? Is that when they will finally understand VW’s trick? (but seriously, can you believe it, there is an entire book on pricing! Guess somebody beat me when it comes to rambling )
Ok, back to the VeeDub (shouldn't it be FeeDub?). Drove the car, was disappointed with the 3-pot’s NVH, but impressed with the car’s handling. Dash design is strictly ok, but the quality is preeetty good, I have to admit. But bah, interior space not worth talking about! And where’s the kit? Not even electric adjusting mirrors, forget folding ones! Do you see the trend – downplay the strengths, pounce on the weaknesses? The i20 effect hadn’t faded off yet. But overall, I have to say, a worthy competitor to the i20. For those who don't mind the smaller size but want a pocket rocket, this is the car. Wait, wasn't I supposed to be a handling fan? Lets think about it later!
The Grande Punto
I keep calling this car Grande Punto, and people keep getting disoriented – the Fiat salesmen included. Grande Punto was a grand name Fiat, just Punto sounds a bit plain if you ask me. And then there is the (milder) confusion when it comes to the diesel engine as well…whats its name – MJD? I keep getting confused what with so many versions floating around: Multijet, Quadrajet, DDIS etc. Anyway, about the car. I had driven a cousin’s Punto MJD a few months back, before my whole purchase saga began. Had felt it was just okay. No quickening of the pulse, no racing of the heart, none of that. The interiors were so plain I couldn't remember what they looked like. And I know the Fiat fan boys will want to murder me for this, but to be honest I think the GP has begun to age a bit now, particularly at the front (Maserati comparisons brushed aside). The front taper is just too much, hence there isn’t much muscle left (try looking down at the car from above, and you will know what I am talking about). But the side profile and rear are very good, no doubts about that. What I couldn't figure out that day, and cant figure out even today, is: why does the GP sell at a premium to the Swift? The diesel engine is the same, the petrols are both worse. They say it's a larger car; I didn't find it larger. Better built? By design, yes, the Swift is tinny where the GP is meaty, but I hear that’s offset by the fact that GP parts are liable to fall away anytime. Bottomline is: for all my fatigue with the Swift’s lines and excitement with the GP’s handling, I would only consider the GP if it were cheaper or the same price as the Swift. Why would I pay more to buy a car with additional risk? And that is probably why the GP is a flop where the Linea is doing fine: pricing. Hyundai and VW do have products which can command a premium over the Swift. Ford and Fiat don't, so they should undercut the Swift. One F has learnt where another hasn't.
All this analysis meant that I was not very keen on a GP TD. Just called the dealership to enquire if there were any discounts in the order of 50k which could make me sit up and reconsider. Nopes. So chapter closed on the GP. With a heavy heart, might I add.
The Beat and i10 were ruled out since they aren’t from the same segment. But can you believe it I never even remembered the Indica Vista in all these weeks? The Fiat salesman helpfully brought it up: Sir have you considered the Vista? I thought hard about it... for 3 or 4 seconds, before saying, no thanks. I mean, come on Tata, don't you know that people buy cars first and foremost for ego kicks? And as an extension of that, that LOOKS MATTER. Just what were you thinking when you trusted the Vista’s design with just one man instead of an agency like I.D.E.A.? You skimped where you shouldn't have, and look where it has brought you. Didn't you learn from the looks and sales correlations of the Sumo Grande and the Scorpio?
So that was that, and here I was, finally at the end of Stage 2.
Dil said i20
Dreams said Jazz
Dimaag said, you duffer what happened to your love of handling? Why aren’t you thinking of the Polo?!
And then the gf said, you jackass what was your budget?!
Poof, stage 3 begins. Confusion reigns supreme. A consultant’s problem structuring and solving skills are put to the test, and they fail miserably. The Buddha contemplates using the much reviled and sniggered-at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and wants to justify his dilemmas and inactions. All this and more, in the stupendously boring spiritual section coming up. I think you would be well advised to move straight up to Stage 4. Thanks for reading!
|27th June 2010, 19:50||#11|
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: New Delhi
Thanked: 111 Times
This is going to be one hell of an ownership report. Very nicely penned down. Waiting eagerly for the successive stages
I also drove my friend's i20 a few days back and was smitten with the package. The car is just awesome.
|27th June 2010, 23:03||#13|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jul 2009
Thanked: 280 Times
awesome write up, looks like my full day at office tomorrow is wasted. Sunday being the family time, can't read it through.hehe!!
|27th June 2010, 23:16||#14|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2009
Thanked: 1,078 Times
To paraphrase a popular saying, the Buddha has made me smile . Carry on
|28th June 2010, 02:19||#15|
But sorry to tell, I think there is going to be around a week's gap after the below post, since I will be back to slogging in the corporate world. Hope to be back posting here Saturday or so! Cheers
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