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Old 21st October 2007, 00:37   #1
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Default Safety first, rear seat comfort next - budget 14L


I am looking to buy a new car in the price range of upto 14 lakhs.

In terms of attributes sought, here goes (in order of priority):

a) Safety (ABS, airbags are a must; a smartly designed body is welcome)
b) Rear seat comfort; one of the chief reasons I hired a chauffer is that this allows me to use my laptop on the way to office which adds a good two hours a day for me.
c) After Sales Service is probably just as important)
d) Pedigree - American and Korean car manufacturers do make me nervous.
e) Value for Money (the budget can stretch a bit if my wishlist is met in its entirety)

I am clearly not someone who changes cars too often (my existing Santro has been with me for much over six years - and I am still hoping to hold on to it - my wife gets to keep it really!).

My average monthly run is about 1500 kms. So I would imagine fuel economy is not as important as easy maintenance. Of the above run, I would say 1000 kms in Mumbai City and 500 kms on highways

The car is chauffer driven (Mon - Fri); and self driven on weekends. I guess some rough handling is almost inevitable - and good After Sales Service is therefore important.

In terms of test drives, here is what I have done so far (I started with the slightly lower priced cars and progressively realized I had to up my budget ...):

a) SX4 - good drive quality except for stiff gear lever. rejected because of cheap look of interiors

b) City ZX Vtech plus - excellent drive quality. VTech plus also now has ABS and airbags so even placed an order - only to be disappointed by the huge waiting time and therefore was forced to cancel the order

c) Innova - a much better drive than what I thought but then had a bit of a belated rethink --- at most times there are going to be only 2 people in the car and the nagging thought that this car is a rear wheel drive (can someone please explain if this concern is misplaced?)

d) Corolla - perhaps the weight of expectations crushed the drive quality. Surprisingly less rear legroom. To be honest I thought even City was better.

e) Civic - the drive of my life! other than the fact that it makes me envious of my chauffer, the grapevine has it that its a white elephant and I just dont know enough myself to believe or ignore this. Am not sure if this car is a delicate one and might not last long. Else it should have been a sureshot winner

f) Octavia - at first glance seemed to be an engineer's delight - lots of small features have been thought through but rear legroom became a huge concern

So six attempts and no decision yet. And lots of nit-picking though I guess its because I am clearly not an expert on cars and dont want to make a decision I end up regretting for the next six plus years

When in doubt, consult experts. So here I am.

i) Are there options that I have overlooked?
ii) Are my assumptions incorrect?
iii) Are my fears on the Civic misplaced?
iv) How much of a drawback is a rear wheel drive (Innova)?
v) Which car would you recommend?


Last edited by aah78 : 25th October 2007 at 01:31. Reason: Please limit smileys to 2/post
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Old 21st October 2007, 09:50   #2
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hcd. not pretty sure about these cars but here are my thoughts with whatever i've heard.

I'd suggest 2 cars that are perfect fit for you.
1. Totota Innova (with captain seats in middle row)
2. Honda Civic

Well the Civic has a real cool rear seat minus the transmission tunnel that makes you feel more spacious and free to move. The interiors are so futiristic that as you correcty said. You would always want to sit in the drivers seat. THe only problem here is the low ground clearance where you tend to hit your bottom on full weight. But here the Civic is not made for speeding over speed breakers. THe car is built for comfort and thus THe suspension is soft. Its not a performace oriented car. Its a comfort oriented one.

The Innova would be a good choice since you can save some money of your 14L budget and get a MUV that you can use excactly as a car. The comfort inside is too good to explain and the NVH levels are really good once the windows are rolled up. You could get the advantage of a diesel with above 11km/l F.E figures. You also get a better Ground CLearance thatn the Civic.
I'd suggest you go for captain seats at the middle row. You wont regret taking an Innova. Thats for sure.
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Old 21st October 2007, 10:04   #3
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Why don't you TD Cedia. It is really great in all aspects. It has ABS, dual air bags, both disc brakes. Great in hanlding and NVH is almost nil. Good FE with 2.0 engine. Sports (top model ) comes around 9.6L OTR (with discounts ) in Chennai.
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Old 21st October 2007, 12:05   #4
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I have hunted for something like this for six months now. My only additional requirement was off-roading (4x4) ablility.

One car kept coming up, but it failed on one major requirement, no off-roading ability. But this car suits your purpose perfectly, it is Innova.
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Old 21st October 2007, 12:38   #5
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Like others mentioned, buy Innova with Captain seats. That is perfect for your usage.

As an aside, Corolla rides (especially back seat comfort) much better than Civic or Cedia (both of them don't have very good under thigh support for the rear seat). If you have a chauffeur, why do you worry about the driving ability. If you take these cars on not so perfect roads, you will notice Corolla's ride. Cedia is the most fun to drive car among the three.
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Old 21st October 2007, 12:56   #6
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Given your requirements, first choice would have to be the Innova. Comfortable, sturdy, excellent A.S.S., reliable & well built. Looks are a downer though but I guess one can live with that, also with the V-spec version you get ABS, Airbags etc. so that should also take care of your safety concerns. Your concern about RWD cars is misplaced, there is no problem with a car bring RWD, rather for a lot of people (especially enthusiastic drivers!) it is a desirable trait but unfortunately there aren't too many RWD cars in our market.

Also keeping in mind your requirements here are two more options that I would consider:

1. Honda Accord: Yes, it's over your budget but in it's segment it still remains the best seller & is an extrememly good VFM package which comes loaded with all the features you want & also has a lot of room. Servics is good & the car is dead reliable while also being surprisingly economical to maintain. Would be my personal choice.

2. Hyundai Sonata: Considering that you're already an existing Hyundai owner you might just find this nice since you already know about their service. But the car has never really picked up in our market (surprisingly) and so the resale is going to be a bummer. Otherwise, a well-built car which also comes with quite a lot of kit.

OT: Since you travel alone here is a mod someone has had done to the rear seat of their Innova in Delhi:

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Old 21st October 2007, 13:24   #7
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Sonata is actually the best bet. The rear seat is very very comfortable. Have done a 5 hour stint in the back seat and it was just great.
It has all the safety features you can ask for.
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Old 21st October 2007, 14:19   #8
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Going by your requirements the cars that suits you arc:

1.Chevy Optra 1.6/1.8: A well built sturdy car,has a great backseat.A.S.S is heard to be getting better .Even their are great discounts on them.

2.Hyundai Sonata Embera: Nothing fancy ,has a great backseat and hyundai's A.S.S support

3.Nissan Teana: IF you're willing to stretch you're budget this is the car.
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Old 21st October 2007, 15:40   #9
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Dont even know why you looking any further than the civic. Its been your dream car. Its got good looks. Good rear seat comfort. Its honda. So reliability is already taken care off. get the a/t option which is inside your budget if iam not mistaken. Your driver drives it on weekdays and you get to drive it on weekends. U might saves some money after buying the car. Get a cool set of rims and your done. Dont even think twice. Jus go in for the CIVIC. Colour white or black.

Embera...Definite no no. Its korean like you said. And god knows if it will still be on sale in a few months to come.
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Old 21st October 2007, 19:53   #10
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Dude, you have left out the GOD of performance in the list of cars!!! what about the Optra Diesel? The ride is awesome, it has a good crash rating at the NHSTA and the engine is a killer...check it out..its good value, and you know the engine is a beauty from the moment you crank it up!

Oh and for the record there is no Optra 1.8 anymore....the A.S.S. is really good. Remove the crap from the civic such as your digi displays and there is little else it offers. Honda service is arrogant..worse than GM..just because the brand is percieved well doesnt mean the A.S.S. is good. They dont even take your car in if you are 30 mins late for an appointment. Whereas Hyundai, GM take cars in even late morning...It doesnt hurt to take a test drive!

Last edited by aah78 : 25th October 2007 at 01:31. Reason: Multiple posts merged. ***'s fixed.
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Old 21st October 2007, 20:44   #11
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Originally Posted by sudarshansarma View Post
Honda service is arrogant..worse than GM..just because the brand is percieved well doesnt mean the *** is good.
My experience with Honda ASService has been pretty good until now. Can you elaborate as to what problems you faced?
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Old 22nd October 2007, 20:30   #12
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Dude, i have a 1999 City and the guys at Arya honda seem to have a very wierd attitude towards it. They say "PUrana hogaya sahb, naya le lo etc..." Its my car i'll sell it whenever i want. Next thing is if you get your car even 30 mins late they make a fuss and try to postpone your service. Not exactly the kind of thing u'd expect from honda
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Old 22nd October 2007, 20:46   #13
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Innova V trim would be your best bit. 11 Lacs OTR

Next I would suggest Corrolla - Its got a very good rear seat & good GC ( Unlike Civic )

BUT if you want a modern car and you can overlook the 2 things - GC & Visibility - then go for the Civic.

I would personally recommend Innova for Space & Size and then Corrolla for self driving all round luxxury Family Sedan.

You really cannot go wrong with the above 3 mentioned cars. Cheers !!
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Old 23rd October 2007, 02:35   #14
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Get the Sonata Embera. That car is one beast of a machine.
Avoid the Civic. Not very easy to get in and out of and definitely not recommended for the chauffeur driven.
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Old 23rd October 2007, 16:40   #15
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I would suggest that only 3 cars/SUVs would satisfy all 5 needs. They are Innova, Civic, and Corolla. I am a little bit biased towards the Corolla since I own one. I beg to differ on 1 point you raised: Corolla's drive quality does not please you. Could be, but have you tried the automatic. Corolla's handling is precise and driveability good. Biggest thing I like: very little noise and good suspension (ride quality may decline as the car gets older, but definitely with better materials as expected in a >10 lakh car, this may not be a issue).

Regarding Civic, there is no doubt (especially going by its sales across the world) that it will hold its value, has FE on par with Corolla, reliability is not a problem. People who have bought the Civic do not grouse so much about FE. But some have problems with ride comfort and noise.

Frankly, if you are confused with Civic/Corolla, then go for top-spec Innova. The ride comfort on it is excellent. Off course, as someone said, not for too much off roading. But that is subjective. I went to Shimla/Chail etc in June 2007 in a hired Innova and did not experience much discomfort on the the broken roads from Shimla to Chail.

Best is to drive all 3 cars 2-3 times and sit in the back also and then decide on either of these 3. I think you will not regret buying any of these 3 (if your budget is 14 lakhs). Innova has diesel and so may be cheaper to run.
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