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Old 21st August 2010, 20:16   #1
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Default Diesel Hatchback Showdown - A Small Family Point of View

Hello all,

This is my first review at Team BHP so hoping I will get some encouraging comments and feedback :-)

We are a family of 2 with a 3 year daughter. We currently own a Swift VXi and I can go hours and hours about how this has been the best car we could have possibly bought. Its an absolute delight in the city, on the highway....practically ANYWHERE! ... But this isnt about the most awesome automobile in the world... its about the diesel saga ..

Where it all began...

Our Swift is a little less than 3 years old and the thought of moving to a diesel vehicle came up after the recent oil price changes. According to my mathematics, the financial benefit of driving a diesel vehicle came out to almost INR 3 per km. My Swift delivers 11-12 kmpl in city conditions vs most diesel cars that should give between 17-20 kmpl.

I drive approximately 1200 km pm which was reason enough to move to a diesel hatchback. We were lucky to be in mid 2010 where there was a host of options unlike late 2007 where all one had was the good ol' Swift VDi. Our budget was a wide enough range between INR 5 Lakhs to INR 6.5 Lakhs (which is why the i20 doesnt make this list).

We did our initial research and fixed a fine bright Saturday for 6 back to back test drives. Read on for our thoughts ...

And the day begins....

Car#1: Mahindra Logan
The company sent a driver and a sales person for the demo. They efficiently showed us the space, seat settings and features and in no time we were on the palm beach road for the 9km long test drive. For all the cars except the Volkswagen Polo, the same stretch was used.

The car was sluggish to start with but once we were into the 3rd gear, it was fairly smooth. Wifey and kiddo loved the interiors. Extremely roomy and lots of leg and boot space. There were also enough compartments to stow away the neverending baby and travel stuff. Braking was average, turning radius average but fairly good shock absorbers. All in all great to sit in but far from driver's delight.

Pros: Space, Airconditioning, Solid Build
Cons: Poor pickup, average handling

Car#2: Skoda Fabia
The company only sent a driver, no sales person which was a bit off putting as he doubled up as a demo person and did not do justice to the car's features.

The car was a MASSIVE improvement over the Logan and the pickup was superb. Great handling, breaking turning radius. Having said that, the all black interiors made it look quite dull. However, dashboard and audio were elegant to look at with chrome tips that added a classy touch. Wifey and kiddo were quite cramped and didn't like the space one bit. The car did look like a winzipped Octavia :-)

Pros: Excellent pickup, ride quality, braking
Cons: Very poor on space

Car#3: Fiat Punto
Fiat probably has the most spirited staff. A driver and polished sales guy drove up a porch and gave a showroom style demo of the car mentioning that this was almost a box import with the exact same model being sold internationally anywhere in the world. He emphasized that the company has not cut down on anything for India which was a big plus. I must say the driver seating was the most plush that I have been in including some C segment cars. The seats are sports-car like and the overall driver surrounds give a cockpit like feeling. The classic font on the speedometer and tachos etc was very classy and from an interiors point of view, this was clearly a class apart from the rest.

The drive was quite good and we were extremely pleased by its large windscreen and side windows. The visibility was immaculate and actually felt like we were sitting on an elevated pedestal. Fantasic views from the inside of the car. Pickup was firm, handling was firm and solid. Not the cushioned comfort of the Fabia.

Pros: superb styling, large windows, good turning radius
Cons: Fiat branding and shared service support from Tata, pricing

Car#4: Ford Figo
This car took us totally by surprise! when the car arrived it looked pretty average, no specific styling, no distinctive looks, just functional. However, the minute we stepped in, we got the feeling we were in an american automobile. Large controls, lots and lots and lots and lots of functional buttons and gadgets, superb headroom and comfy distance between driver and passenger seats. Overall a large car sitting area, just a tad less than the Logan. The car had a maroon dashboard which looked kind of cool on the black test drive vehicle. The car was equipped with a high end bluetooth enabled sound system that produced more than satisfactory sound from an OEM product.

Once the turned the car onto the palm beach road, I checked again with the sales person, "Are you sure you brought the diesel version ?" I couldn't feel any difference from my petrol Swift!! The car had immaculate pickup, the 2nd gear whooshed upto 85 without making any noise, and we cruised upto 125 on a 9 km stretch in no time. By far the best engine of the lot and totally a driver's delight! I loved flipping the steering around, making sharp turns and a full throttle u-turn. Wife and kiddo loved the space. There were hollow outlets at every possible location...below the stereo, behind the hand brake, beloe the hand brake, door trims...pretty much everywhere..Overall this was the package that met our space and driveability requirements the most...

Pros: Fantastic drive and handling, space, phenomenal airconditioning
Cons: No power windows on the rear seat, No alloys, too many variants

Car#5: Swift VDi
We were a bit apprehensive to consider a 2nd Swift but that wasnt much of a concern as the dealer himself said he had closed bookings for the VDi. Said there was too much backlog and no point test driving. Thats about it :-) So we didnt drive it either!

Pros: No comments
Cons: Complacence? My Bhargava are you listening?

Car#6: Volkswagen Polo
Our dealer experience was pretty poor on this one as he refused to bring the car to our home for the test drive. So we went to the dealership on the Mumbai Pune highway. At the onset, the test drive area did not allow us to go full throttle on the car as we were not allowed to hit the main highway.

Having said that we were super excited to experience the German beauty. The car is a stunner to look at and will surely make heads turn. Interiors are immaculate but wifey and kiddo found the space quite average. The drive was also nothing to write home about. I found the pickup quite sluggish and till the point we reached the 3rd gear, it was actually quite an effort to drive the car. I think the only thing this car lacked is a good engine. Fantastic handling, stunning looks (did I mention that before already?) and excellent interiors. Overall one of the poorest driving experience. On top of that a >INR650k tag and 3 months waiting did not help. I think the main reason this has happened is the Indian tendency to grab everything thats firang LOL

Pros: Looks, Handling, interiors
Cons: Engine (blech!), space (somewhat)

Overall, we did a scoring on a scale of 1-5 on a set of parameters that mattered to us and a clear choice emerged....ZE FORD FIGO....from the JOSH/FIDA stable and I must say it had both these features!...Go fo Figo guys its the best diesel out there...thats our verdict :-)

[IMG]file:///C:/Users/ADMINI%7E1/AppData/Local/Temp/moz-screenshot.png[/IMG][IMG]file:///C:/Users/ADMINI%7E1/AppData/Local/Temp/moz-screenshot-1.png[/IMG]
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Old 21st August 2010, 21:12   #2
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Very balanced scoring for all the cars .

As you like Swift already, I would suggest you also do a TD of Swift diesel and Ritz diesel before nailing the decision (with a different dealer, since your dealer seems to be showing a bad attitude). And Vista too - don't underrate that car! (but enquire about how good the Tata service centers are in your area).

In my case, after test driving all the hatches it boiled down to two hatches: Swift and Figo. Took a long time to make up my mind over this, and in the end Figo won. One of the main reasons for that was the stock tyres on Swift, and the lack of features on the Ldi version which was the only variant that fell into my budget, and it was competing with the Figo Zxi at the same price on-road.

Do keep us updated on your decision!

Last edited by rajushank84 : 21st August 2010 at 21:16.
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Old 21st August 2010, 22:45   #3
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Hey rajushank84 .. decision made... the Figo diesel zxi it is!
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Old 21st August 2010, 23:56   #4
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Congrats Vikram! Looking forward to your ownership thread with lots and lots of pictures!
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Old 22nd August 2010, 00:38   #5
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congrats on the Figo but man some of your observations are plain wrong -
Fabia: space is cramped compared to others..are you kidding?
Punto- good turning radius. what can I say, the turning radius of Punto is bigger than C-segment cars OR you are trying to say - the bigger the radius, the better?
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Old 22nd August 2010, 06:33   #6
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Hi adi, when I say space is cramped its purely cabin space and yes, with a baby in your arms, the Fabia passenger seat was surely cramped.

maybe the maths on the turning radius is wrong but it was one of the most sharp uturners on palm beach rd.

Do understand that I have limited knowledge of tech specs but this is pure look and feel observations.. :-)
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Old 22nd August 2010, 06:49   #7
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@Vikram31

Is Mahindra Logan a Diesel Hatchback ?

I am sorry for being naive or plain.

Cheers
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Old 22nd August 2010, 07:11   #8
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Wow,congos,whats the waiting period for the figo?
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Old 22nd August 2010, 07:37   #9
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@sanagg1 - At the price point, it was one of the considerations. It clearly is not priced @ sedan levels :-)

@ rakesh_r - 2 weeks @ Navi Mumbai
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Old 22nd August 2010, 09:25   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vikram31 View Post
My Swift delivers 11-12 kmpl in city conditions vs most diesel cars that should give between 17-20 kmpl.
17 kmpl plus in the city is only under certain conditions, in heavy traffic most diesels will struggle to give over 14, especially Figo.

Car owners tend to brag about their mileage and exaggerate it so don't go by word of mouth, check the TBHP reviews etc. For every 1 person who claims 17 kmpl mileage, there are 10 others in the 12-14 range.
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Old 22nd August 2010, 09:36   #11
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Go for it vikram, i also feel ford figo diesel is the best in the segment
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Old 22nd August 2010, 11:02   #12
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Excellent Comparo. I think this is the best scoring card i have seen on a diesel comparo thread. Very close to accurate without any bias,

The only point where i think you will not be very satisfied is the 17-20km/l in-city average assumption. With everything else you are BANG ON!!
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Old 22nd August 2010, 16:26   #13
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Wonderful comparo of all the diesels and congratulations on going for the Ford!
Which colour have gone for? and do give us a dealership and booking experience!
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Old 23rd August 2010, 00:22   #14
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@ avishar - Black ZXi ...Bhavna Ford at Navi Mumbai. Superb experience so far. More on this post ownership :-)
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Old 23rd August 2010, 00:58   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vikram31 View Post
Our budget was a wide enough range between INR 5 Lakhs to INR 6.5 Lakhs (which is why the i20 doesnt make this list).
Good review, practical views. But like someone pointed out, Logan aint a hatch

And i20 Era CRDi in my place is 5.73 ex-showroom, which makes it within the 6.5 budget you have mentioned.
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