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Old 2nd February 2011, 08:29   #31
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

As usual, another excellent thread!
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
an honest, straight-forward ownership review is infinitely more trustworthy, and representative of the car, than "expert" reviews.
Very true, especially in this broadband era, wherein so many ownership reviews are accessible with a button click.

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Who knows a car better than one who lives with it? Who can report on a car better than he, whose bills are NOT paid by automotive advertisements? Where do you find the best database of ownership reports on Indian cars .
The only glitch here is that new owners normally have set preferences and favourites, and based on that, they purchased the car. So the initial reports could be pretty biased (unintentionally though) towards the newly purchased machine.
And yes, even though there is an avalanche of online ownership reports, very seldom we find credible and structured reports as ours!

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
I trust a knowledgeable enthusiast and / or car owner more than any journalist. Thanks to all those of you who have contributed with ownership threads on your cars, especially the ones that are frequently updated with service, maintenance and repair information.
Very true, and after joining this forum, I could see how a couple of ownership threads can subconsciously change the perception of public / prospective buyers – and that is the power of well written / detailed ownership reviews. To give an example, when I joined the forum, there was substantial Skoda bashing going around, but with the arrival of Yetiblog®’s Superb, and a few other Skodas, I could see an overall change in the response tone. Read it as the impact of our ownership threads.

Originally Posted by ajay0612 View Post
Honesty is a lfestyle. An honest person would do justice to whatever job he/she is given. That is why certain reviewers are more trustworthy than others. So it is easy to assess a few expert reviwers rather than endless user reviewers. Personally I have found expert reviews here and in Overdrive Magazine very believable and trustworthy.
Well, it could be the same honesty at times lead to biased opinion. It could be that the reviewer is being honest and aligned to his/her publication’s requirement.

Originally Posted by ajay0612 View Post
A prospective experienced buyer usually go through expert reviews first, and then validates certain pertinent information by browsing through ownership reports. That helps in eradicating any doubts he might not have found answers in 'brief' expert reviews.
Originally Posted by vivekgk View Post
I consult both. I find that the expert reviews generally appreciate the smaller details a bit more, and are generally more enthusiastic about the technical brilliance. For example, you'd hardly find a mention of a VGT or hydraulic lash adjusters in a typical ownership review. But then again, the expert reviews, even the long term ones, sometimes leave out stuff like service experiences. A staff from Autocar India or Overdrive mag would hardly ever have to deal with staff trying to cheat them. They receive exceptional service and are thus less reliable when it comes to such things.
Totally agree with the above comments. One plus I have found with the magazines are the comparisons they do. Not so much on their final verdict, but the details, and pictures. It just help to give a better view for prospective buyers.

Originally Posted by vivekgk View Post
Comparisons are a lot easier if you haven't committed to anything.
Very well said!

Originally Posted by vivekgk View Post
But I find that most of the faults that expert reviewers harp on, like bad plastics, are things that the average owner wouldn't really care as much about. From reading an expert review, you'd be under the impression that the Volkswagens/Skodas are the only cars in India with plastics that you can actually touch without recoiling in disgust. You'd think that no car with an engine smaller than 1.6L could be fun to drive. You'd think that the Swift and Ritz are the only cars in the 1.2L segment that aren't slow, sluggish and unrefined.
Very true. And another key point here is the reviewer’s perception with the brands. And at times, the comparison happens with the other models from the same brand. Some of the publications gave excellent rating for Aria’s interiors, but the key point here was that the comparison was with other TATA models, and not with competition. I am sure if the badge was of a VW, the same car would have been ripped off for lack of quality.

Originally Posted by vivekgk View Post
I'm just saying, be realistic. Saying that a particular car is not for the enthusiast is a lot better than calling it underpowered.
Very unlikely to happen. At times, some cars are rated inferior because it took 1/10th of a second extra to get from 0 to 100.

Originally Posted by vivekgk View Post
Recently, there was a comparison between the Skoda Laura diesel and the Chevy Cruze in one of India's leading magazines. They rated the Laura higher on everything except maybe design, and declared it the overall winner. They rated the Laura's interiors higher, because the plastic quality was soooo good, even though the Cruze has the freshest looking interiors on any car in that segment. I've sat in both cars, and I have to say, I found the Cruze more appealing. It felt good to sit in a space-age looking cockpit, surrounded by contemporary piano-finish surfaces, blue backlit switches and so on. I admit that I haven't driven it yet, but reliable sources say that the Cruze's common rail motor is a real firecracker compared to the pump-duse motor in the Laura. Not to mention, Skoda's un-stellar reputation on service, vs Chevrolet's excellent one. Clearly, factors like a lower price, higher FE, fresher design and better service did not matter enough to said magazine's staff as much as it would to the typical owner.
I guess, this is where perception comes into play, and personally even I agree with the above view of the said magazine

Another thing the magazine reviewers sadly don’t cover is the long term reliability issues. You will get to know all the aspects of a new car, but not the longevity aspect – like how long the car will remain fresh, both in design and also on mechanical aspects.

Originally Posted by vivekgk View Post
A prime exception to the 'scathing reviews' rule would be the Malayalam auto mags, which are generally highly appreciative of every aspect of every vehicle they review. There is never any strong criticism, only suggestions that 'this would have been better had it been done like that'. It's almost laughable how the tone of the article changes from start to end. For example, I was reading the review of the Apache RTR160 Hyper Edge. Now, this is NOT a comprehensive makeover of the bike, and largely a sticker and paint job, with some small tweaks. The review starts out by addressing the bike by name, but by the time the reviewer begines commenting on the bikes performance and handling, he has begun to shower affection on this bike, calliing it 'him' and 'he'. It borders on the ridiculous. This is the other end of the spectrum. I strongly suspect that these mags have to beg manufacturers for a car to review.
Those reviews are hilarious. Being in Singapore, I don’t get to see those magazines, but I follow the review clips via youtube. All the cars they review are good, and there are no negatives whatsoever. To add to it, they try to project an added enthusiasm, and the trouble is that – it shows very badly!
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Old 2nd February 2011, 09:03   #32
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Originally Posted by GTO View Post
an honest, straight-forward ownership review is infinitely more trustworthy, and representative of the car, than "expert" reviews.
True in my case, when I bought my Fiat Linea. I perused for more than three months various ownership reviews in Team-BHP of various brands/models that were in my radar. I also subscribe to Overdrive and AutoCarIndia. But, the ownership reviews contributed much more than the articles appeared in these auto magazines in taking the final decision.
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Old 5th February 2011, 13:58   #33
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

Ford on its Facebook figo page has put a query " when and how did you decide to buy the figo"
A response from a lady says ""
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Old 5th February 2011, 15:42   #34
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

An ownership review as well as an expert review may or may not be biased. I feel it all depends on where you find them. These reviews found in print media & TV shows could be more biased since "what we see is what the editor wants us to see".

A review in tbhp could also be very biased. But the advantage we have here is that this is a forum and people can actually respond/react to any review published. So even if someone is biased towards any brand/model, we still get to hear about the cons too from others. So on a whole we get a much better & sharper picture about the reality.

In this context, I guess the television reviews have a slightly upper hand because they need not be totally dependant on the automobile industry for their ad revenues. They surely can and do show FMCG and other ads during an auto show. But for the print media its another thing since we hardly/never find a soap ad in one of their mags. But the problem we usually find especially in the Indian media is that they never criticize a car openly. We always have to read between the lines (and the lines are extremely fine). The TopGear team do criticise openly but their bias is very clear and they dont try hiding it either.

In a nut-shell: trust yourselves on what to trust.
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Old 7th February 2011, 12:51   #35
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

+1 to GTO's point that its a question of "conflict of interest".

Its important to understand the survey result. It says ownership reports are "preferred" over expert reviews. Both play different roles depending on whether the product is a new launch or has been around a while.

I'm assuming that someone with no knowledge of automobiles, so most t-bhp members drop out of this, has mostly these 2 sources to depend upon.

When i was out there choosing a car, the expert reviews worked like an extension of the advertisement. The ad gave me an idea of how good the car looks generally. The expert review went a little further highlighting what was on offer. For a car that was around in the market for a while, the expert review went a little further with some pointers to its ownership costs.

So expert reviews for me == primarily a source of "+ve" information. only source mostly when its a new launch. finer details beyond what the ad states. plus some obvious short comings such as performance, spaces, fuel efficiency etc. But these are more of less similar across the same segment these days right? I gathered info on all the cars i had on my list from expert reviews. But i didnt trust it cause it mostly always highlights the best of the product. Are they telling me the truth? Did they really have the car long enough to judge or were they being paid for saying what they said?

Ownership reports == source of "-ve" information & validation of the +ves. Esp when the car has been around a while. Here is where i validated the info i gathered from the experts. All these doubts are laid to rest when i pore over ownership reports before i finally book the car. If you search our own forums, i'm sure that owners post more "details" when they find a glaring -ve. In fact we ourselves tend to search to find "whats wrong" with the car & the its service aspect since we know about "whats right" from experts.

Its is my view cause this is what i "look for" in an ownership report and expert review. But people think differently and you may actually be looking for exactly the opposite from these. Maybe you look for the expert to highlight the -ves and to the owners to accentuate the +ve.
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Old 24th February 2012, 20:29   #36
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Default Re: Study says "Ownership Reports" preferred over "Expert Reviews" in India

I most definitely look at both expert reviews and user reviews.

In days gone by the expert reviews tended to be better as the magazines were not so heavily ad dependent, at least in South Africa. For some reason, they tended to have a lot of different types of ads.

Once the internet era took over, advertising revenues for hard copy publishing fell and reviewers needed to become very politically correct and could never talk about how bad a car really was. You had to read in between the lines.

In theory expert reviewers should actually be very good at the job, because all they are supposed to do is test vehicles day in and day out. That is after all their job. However, there are a couple of major disadvantages with magazine reviews. They do not need to worry about real world things that paying customers need to. Mileage, cost of service, efficiency of service (A.S.S's bend over backwards for magazine cars as their name gets mentioned in the magazine), any problems with vehicles get rectified by any means necessary (even if it means replacing parts at cost to the company) and there is no need to actually look after a car as carefully as a one car owner who has put all his life savings into it.

Also reviewers only ever get new cars to test and their longest reviews seem to be around 50,000 k's at best. On the other hand, how many owners do we know that have kept vehicles for more than 100,000 k's. This makes a difference for long term ownership.

Owner reviews occasionally tend to be very biased because someone has no knowledge of other options out in the market. However, if you get a big enough sample like TBHP does, then the law of averages states that you will have a correct picture. An example is the Toyota Innova. Not every review praises it. Some people have had problems with the vehicle. However, almost all reviews are good, so if you wind up with a bad Innova it is the 1 or 2 percent vehicles that are flawed.

Additionally owner reviews have given us the truth about daily use in actual Indian road conditions. People use the same vehicle in all types of terrains for all types of work. For example we use our Omni for coffee estate work. It only does not manage during the rains when the mud roads are very slippery.

All said and done, we the customers, need to find a balance between the expert reviews and user reviews and choose carefully.
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