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Old 25th April 2009, 01:09   #1
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Default car choices for an potential ex-NRI?

Hey guys. I've lived in the US for a bit over 15 years now, indulged myself with all sorts of fun cars, right up to the present (I have a rare extreme spec Lotus Elise built by their motorsport arm, one of 50, with chassis spec borrowed from the Lotus Exige Cup race car).

The desire to return to India has been building and my wife and I are starting to consider it very seriously (though very far from a decision), and being a gearhead, one of the first things that comes to my mind is "what will I drive".

To be honest, I am not excited at all by the field on offer in India mostly because I like rwd cars and I am not inclined to shell out 30 lacs for a 4 cylinder BMW. While its by no means a hard and fast rule, I am inclined to pursue inexpensive car choices, mostly because I've had some of the best here and I am not interested in paying big bucks for what are very mediocre cars to me.

The interesting thing is, while I have little regard for Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas and Hyundai Vernas, I am full of appreciation for the 5lac and below cars because they provide honest simple functionality at what is, to me, a ridiculously low cost, and I appreciate their simplicity.

So with that, let me share with you the cars I am interested in:

1. Maruti Gypsy King. red! Its an unrefined, crude, bumpy, impractical, gas guzzling dinosaur to be sure. But I remember the gypsy as being a mechanically simple vehicle that is very rewarding to operate. By operate, I mean just the pure mechanical feel of the thing. I am attracted to it for other reasons as well. I always had fun driving it, despite its truck like handling. Also, I've owned 5 convertibles in the US and I am most keen to have a vehicle in India that I can open up. Plus my wife is from Kashmir and I expect we would go to Kashmir and Ladakh often. Plus I like the idea that we could pile a bunch of friends in to go for a drive. Mostly though I expect it just to be a fun vehicle to drive in or out of town.

I am also greatly attracted to Maruti because there service shops are everywhere, parts availability is everywhere, and the parts are so frickin cheap!!

I would be concerned about its poor fuel economy, its poor highway performance, difficulty in resale. And I don't know if factory A/C is available on the Gypsy. How long does it take get one if you want to buy new?

2. a second hand Ford Mondeo. Yes, its fwd, but I have a great respect for the Ford Mondeo and believe the car that was sold in India was the best in class for chassis dynamics, and I would think that a second hand low mileage car would not be very expensive. Maybe 10lacs? On the other hand, I would be worried about parts availability. The last thing I want is to have the car breakdown and find that the nearest dealer is 200km and cannot get the part I need for 2 weeks.

3. Second hand old model Honda Accord. My dad has one and I think its a bloody fantastic car for India. It is unbelievably reliable and durable, plus it has just the sort of efficient, driver friendliness and isolation from the madness of Indian roads to make it the most pleasant car.

4. A suzuki Swift ZXi or VDi. cheap, nippy, good to drive, just wonderful.

5. a second hand Ford Ikon 1.6 Rocam.

6. Octavia VRs, maybe, but the reliability issues and dishonesty of its dealers, I am not so sure about this one.

7. second hand maruti Zen. yes, I mean that. This car has always impressed me with how light and easy it is to drive in the congestion of Indian city traffic.

8. alternatively I could go for an import. ideally a second hand but good condition, low mileage E36 M3. or an MX-5. or a E39 E530i. or maybe an LS400. But I've no idea what the prices on these are like in India.

Anyway, as you can see, my thoughts are all over the place, from zens to gypsies to M3s.

your input and reactions are most eagerly sought!!

Last edited by Harbir : 25th April 2009 at 01:13.
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Old 25th April 2009, 01:21   #2
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Coming from another potential ex-NRI....Indian traffic is not worth the suffering. So for sure you need one dedicated city car that better be either automatic or chauffer driven. Keep the other for fun drives.

Generally speaking, Indian versions have jacked up and softened suspensions = pathetic handling. Good news is that after market parts are available to fix that.

Mondeos can be had from 5-7 depending on condition. If you can do a Duratec V6 transplant, then you wont miss your Elise too much. Ikon is also a great choice but rather crude and raw. If you want brand new then Fiesta S fits the bill.
Gypsy good for short drives only. (on road)
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Old 25th April 2009, 01:21   #3
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You'll get a Mondeo around 5 lakhs, probably less. The same for an MX-5. Around 10 lakhs you would find a GS300. No clue about the Beemers though, sorry.

Just convert the Lotus to RHD and ship it down.
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Old 25th April 2009, 01:23   #4
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Mondeo's parts arnt that hard to source, they can be had from Ford Dealers but there is a wait of about a week. I can tell this from personal experence. You can get a good one (like mine) for 4 lakhs which is a steal I think.

I think you should try and consider importing the Lotus, sell it off for good money and buy something you feel you will be much happier in.

EDIT : Damn I thought I am the only one awake at nite. Nice to see so many mondeo lovers. I might be selling the car because I might be going abroad its nice to know there are so many aspirants for it

Last edited by quickdraw : 25th April 2009 at 01:25.
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Old 25th April 2009, 01:45   #5
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How about a Fiat 500? - it will be a good city car to own.
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Old 25th April 2009, 01:53   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superleggera View Post
How about a Fiat 500? - it will be a good city car to own.
At over 15 lakhs INR. I dont think so, and he already mentioned that he is spoilt by getting the best over there for REAL prices. This thing is priced over twice of what it will cost abroad.
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Old 25th April 2009, 01:56   #7
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I would suggest for you to go with the ford fusion TDCI+. thats got a good engine, nice features and comfort to drive in the town.
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Old 25th April 2009, 02:03   #8
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Yeah, Rs 1.5Million for a 75hp mini? No thanks. Its a pretty good car, but its not worth 3 times the price of a Swift ZXi. In the UK, the swift costs almost exactly the same as the 500. I can understand that there is associated premium in india due to its being a CBU (I presume), and also a prestigious rarity, but 3 times a price of a Swift? no way.
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Old 25th April 2009, 02:06   #9
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Hey Harbir,
Thats a surprise !!

Well, assuming that you will be staying in one of the metros and commuting to work by your car (NOT by public transport), You would want to have a city car and a highway cruiser.

I wouldnt advise you to go for a second hand car, as due to the road conditions and driving habits of people in India, cars are usually abused to the max. Its very hard to get a sparingly used car with all mechanicals in ship shape. Second hand zen or mondeo will be more pain to maintain, as both have been discontiued for close to 5 years now. Spares could be an issue too.

There is not end to the maintenance nightmares people have faced with Skoda, so better stay away from that.

Gypsy is a capable off road machine, but very uncomfortable on road. It would be fun to go off road bashing on weekends, but cant be your day to day car.

For city commute I would suggest, get a small car from maruti stable, you wont go wrong. Swift (petrol/diesel), A-star, ritz all are very easy to drive city cars. Couple more contenders could be Hyundai i10/i20, Palio, or the soon to be launched Honda Jazz (Fit in US of A). All are priced close to Rs 6 lakhs.

For highway commute, any decent D segment car, or SUV should do fine. Depending on your budget, you have a wide choice available. You get cars like Civic, Corolla for about 10lakhs range to Merc E class for about 50 lakhs. I would suggest you can pick a Accord V6 (automatic, sorry manual was never lanched in India) for about 25 lakhs or there abouts. Chances are slightly better to find a sparingly used high end car, as most of the high end cars are chauffer driven in India. So you can try your luck there. Even the new breed of SUVs like GV, or CR-V are also god for comfortable highway cruising.

HTH !
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Old 25th April 2009, 02:58   #10
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Hey Abhijit, its just an idea, nothing settled yet.


On your recommendations, I am EXTREMELY unlikely to buy an an automatic of any kind. I cannot stomach driving an automatic.If traffic is so bad that an automatic becomes a must, I would choose not to drive at all and just hire a driver, while I sit in the back and read the paper or do some work.

As to the gypsy, I guess I'll just have to drive one and see if its tolerable. Based on what I remember, I could live with it, but who knows. we get soft as we age, and plush new generations of cars change our perspective.

does anyone know whether the Gypsy can be air conditioned? I like those soft top gypsies that have the top removed and replaced with a compact toupe that covers just the front two seats.

Last edited by Harbir : 25th April 2009 at 03:07.
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Old 25th April 2009, 03:19   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harbir View Post
Hey Abhijit, its just an idea, nothing settled yet.


On your recommendations, I am EXTREMELY unlikely to buy an an automatic of any kind. I cannot stomach driving an automatic.If traffic is so bad that an automatic becomes a must, I would choose not to drive at all and just hire a driver, while I sit in the back and read the paper or do some work.

As to the gypsy, I guess I'll just have to drive one and see if its tolerable. Based on what I remember, I could live with it, but who knows. we get soft as we age, and plush new generations of cars change our perspective.

does anyone know whether the Gypsy can be air conditioned? I like those soft top gypsies that have the top removed and replaced with a compact toupe that covers just the front two seats.
Harbir,yes it can be easily,and a baleno unit is the one you should plonk in.
and did someone suggest a fusion TDCI ,i think with just 68 horses its not worth it.
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Old 25th April 2009, 06:50   #12
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A small car will keep you happier, esp coming in from the west.
So go for getz crdi if you want lots of power, or the swift if you are a petrolhead
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Old 25th April 2009, 08:14   #13
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Ah! our beautiful country!

By the time you make up your mind and all, we may have likes of Grand Punto around. A T-Jet GP would make most sense for a petrolhead AND our cities methinks!

Gypsy is still being sold!!??
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Old 25th April 2009, 08:45   #14
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I'd suggest a Getz CRDi. Goes like a rocket and will keep you excited for quite a bit. Even a Petes upgrade would help. I agree with you on the Mondeo, it was exemplary in terms of driver excitement and involvement. If you can afford the upkeep it should be a thoroughly rewarding experience, easily your best choice with M/T. The Swift is a bit of a boring drive frankly, IMO.
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Old 25th April 2009, 08:54   #15
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How about the Palio MJD. Same engine as the Swift and a lot cheaper. A much sturdier car too.
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