is a species of raptor
that have been recorded diving at speeds of 200 miles per hour (320 km/h), making them the fastest-moving creatures on Earth.
lasts a 1000 years. The built to last TOYOTA logo
And my ship christened, The "Millennium Falcon
", is a raptor that is built to last inside out (It is entirely a different matter that I am a die-hard Star Wars fan and incidentally it is Han Solo's Ship too). The Millennium Falcon in my driveway
Alternatives & Why This?
It is no secret on the forum that I am a huge Toyota Fan. Why? Because I have tasted its quality and economic viability. As quoted from a recent article in an auto magazine, I am of the club where WE MAY GO on and on about cars like they are living, breathing objects of desire, and to some of us they are. But the vast majority just treats them a white goods for urban transport.
Toyota makes cars which are simple, efficient and super-reliable, sort of the perfect white goods on wheels. I was amongst the first buyers to buy the face-lifted Qualis in 2002. After eagerly waiting for Toyota for years, one first look and I said what the thundering typhoons is this!! And what a bread box
it turned out to be!! Today it is still with me after having clocked more than 1.5 Lac km's and still ready to do the next 1.5!! It is, to quote, "as indestructible as nuclear waste
Then came and joined our family in 2004 was the Corolla. And we all know how well that has sold despite the price. The same Qualis story continues with this. Built of tried and trusted mechanicals that will run faultlessly forever and ever. It still gives me a FE (as we are possessed with Kitna Deti Hai?) of 12-13 kmpl and comes out cheaper to run and maintain than my Hyundai Santro!!
That is the Toyota way. Circa 2011
Time to change (and upgrade) the trusted steeds was dawning. With more experience (and financial strength, of course) it was decided that an upgrade to a 20 lac vehicle is now imminent. Though Fortuner was always my first love and desire, I coerced myself not to be blinded by love and look for alternatives. My driving desires of some off-roading also creeping in, but primarily to be used as a rugged highway vehicle. We initially decided to go for 1 SUV and 1 Premium Sedan as we are two brothers living in a joint family. The sedan part is still to be decided so we moved on to the SUV first. Now the alternatives I looked at even while choosing the SUV, included some sedans too, so don't be bemused by my choices -
1. The Skoda Yeti
- What I didn't like was the compact dimensions though this vehicle was loaded to the brim. Also it did not fulfill my need of a 3rd row of seats to carry my extended family of 8 (5 adults and 3 children). And the greatest turn off was that it stalled the moment I took its first test drive. A vehicle which insults your intelligence on first embrace is a total NO NO for me.
2. The Skoda Superb
- I loved this vehicle the moment I sat in it. The touchscreen went on and all "heaven" broke loose. So even if I overlooked my need to carry the extended family (as it would be rare occasion/s when all 8 will travel together), the car wowed me. The Dealer (a close friend) tried to push me the petrol at a very lucrative on-road price of 19 Lacs and that really had me thinking for a while. It was loaded like the E Class. But eventually was pushed back by the rationalizing mind for another day.
3. Nissan X-Trail
- My same Skoda dealership owner friend had also just got the Nissan dealership and I was the first to test drive the X-Trail in Meerut. It had some inherent strengths but it was neither butch enough nor had the street presence compared to my eventual choice. The dealership reliability was iffy and Nissan was untested territory for me at least.
4. Ford Endeavour
- A reliable alternative, but I had some issues with the local Ford dealership (had a previous BAD experience while going in for Figo purchase and had eventually settled for an i10 due to some false commitments on their part). Also it had a very poor 3rd row, was bumpier, and the engine was poorer compared to the Fortuner (though not a patsy by any means).
5. BMW X1
- Now that was another brand of my dreams (and may be an eventual second upgrade, the brand i.e.). It was now affordable and in my budget. But it was NOT a SUV by any stretch of imagination. It was slightly bigger than a Wagon-R (Now, X1 owners, read Suman, don't crucify me) and lacked the bite I was looking for. The back row was too cramped and would struggle to put in a 3rd person. I liked the 320D
much better and more rounded option but that would have to be another story.
6. Audi A4
- Like I said, don't be bemused by the options I looked at. It had everything I desired. A close friend had bought it recently and I was flabbergasted by the equipment levels. Its price was stretching my budget. Its dealership was not easily accessible for me. So eventually it was left out to fight the next battle.
7. Toyota Fortuner
- It was the upgrade
I was looking for. It was diesel. It had 3 rows of relatively comfortable seats. It could fit all my required 8 people. It was NOT a TAXI (read Innova). It had the road presence of a bull. It had the most brilliant 3.0L engine tanked in a 45Lac vehicle (read Prado). It had off-roading capabilities. The company was one that I loved and had experienced inside out. It was more fuel efficient than my Qualis even after having a bigger heart. It had low maintenance and overall lower cost of ownership over a period of 5-8 years that I intended to keep it. There was a close last minute battle with the Face-Lifted version on the anvil. A separate topic
and poll was started for the comparo in which the Classic eventually won and it was available NOW. Booking & Delivery Experience
One thing is for sure that most people's buying decision about a Toyota today are NOT dependent on their dealerships. In the initial period (2000-2004) Toyota's dealership had an elan which was hard to compete. Not any more. Their dealerships have increased in numbers and the quality has deteriorated as per my personal experience. Maybe the number of increased sales and service pressures have resulted in this. The dealership Uttam Toyota, Ghaziabad from whom I had taken delivery of both my Toyota's is but a shadow of the original I had experienced. My local Meerut dealership (Grand Toyota) has just recently opened and also owned by a friend (albeit, not close) but is still not up to the mark. He expressed his inability to deliver a Fortuner to me before 6 months, point blank to my face, on my interaction on this subject, due to huge political pressure (lolz... due to the category of people mainly taking the Fortuner in this region). But assured me full service support even if I got it from elsewhere.
So I walk into a newly opened dealership at Faridabad, Haryana (my in-laws place), 36 Toyota, and am promptly greeted by a very professional setup and a glittering 6 storied dealership. A brand new Fortuner is standing there and I am promptly offered a very short test drive. The deal is sealed and immediately an advance cheque of Rs. 1 Lac is handed over to them on 1st June 2011. However a 4 month delivery period dilemma remained.
In comes a close family friend presently posted in Haldwani (Uttaranchal) with whom I discussed my dilemma and he promptly offered me to look into this matter on getting back to Haldwani. Also in the back of the mind was the knowledge of the added advantage of buying from Uttaranchal and a huge tax saving of about 1 lac rupees on the on-road price. Every 4th car in UP was being registered in the neighboring Uttaranchal due to this reason. He finds a local dealership exists in Haldwani (which is a branch of their main dealership at Bareilly, UP). They offer me a tempting 3 months delivery schedule and the tax savings too. So it was really a no-brainer and the booking at Faridabad was promptly cancelled and transferred to Commercial Toyota, Haldwani. Now I must mention the absolute professional behavior of 36 Toyota, Faridabad. They understood my issue and did not blink an eyelid in handing my money back. So the Fortuner was eventually booked at Haldwani on 14th of June 2011.
45 days passed without incidence or any communication. One fine morning I decided to have a status check as to what's going on. I was shocked to hear the answer by their Haldwani SA that there seems to be a shortage of vehicles coming in from Toyota, Bangalore and there might be a longer than expected delay in the delivery. I immediately shot an email to their Bangalore head office and demanded to know the reason for the lack of clarity of delivery period to their customers and why there was no centralized online tracking system by which a customer's mind could be at ease. Surprise Surprise, I got an immediate response from them and my complaint was immediately escalated both at the dealer and at their central levels. Within 24 hours I received a reply from Commercial Toyota's main office at Bareilly that my vehicle would be made available before 15th of August, so they requested me to kindly close my complaint. At peace for a few days.
Then called up their SA on 7th - No response;
Called again on 8th - No response;
Sms'd them on 8th evening to cancel my booking and send my refund;
9th August 2011, 11am - received call from SA that the Falcon had landed with them yesterday night; Prepared all payment by 3pm; Reported back to them that I will be arriving tomorrow so better not touch my beast; Confirmed VIN; Make 07/11 (29.07.2011, 8pm to be more precise)
10th 7am - Took my trusted steed, the Corolla, on a 215km ride to Haldwani
11.30am - Arrival with TBhp PDI checklist in hand and had a first look of the brute. Was blown away (read In Love) on first glance. That's how a vehicle should feel at first embrace.
12.30pm - Left my Love behind and started the PDI with a rational mind. First thing I checked was the tyre pressure. Found it at exact 30 psi which inspired confidence that they do their job properly. "My" PDI completed after 1 hour.
3pm - Took delivery and rode back to Meerut at 4pm after lunch.
8.30 pm - Reached home, Did the customary "Tel Chona", Trip to Temple, Entry to our home.
They forced me to buy Toyota Insurance through Iffco Tokio (additional 15K gone from my initial planning) but convinced me saying trouble free cashless claims at all Toyota branches in India. I should have protested, but was not in a mood to get into another conflict. I did not opt for the zero depreciation option as it was another additional 15K, as in the 1st year there is, as it is, zero depreciation on the engine and all metal parts for the initial 6 months and only 5% depreciation after 6 months. So, postponed the zero depreciation part for the 2nd year. It is however, Cashless across all branches of Toyota all over India.
OTR - 20,34,010 + 55248 Toyota Insurance + 50788 Road Tax = Rs. 21,40,046/-
On road price. I paid additional 10K for VIP number over this, at the last spur of the moment decision (5555). No accessories added (except the FREE Black Rubber Toyota Floor Mats) and I will keep it that way except perhaps the ICE upgrade later down the road. The process of Uttaranchal registration is absolutely legal and requires a local acquaintance's address and his address proof and a NOC from him that he knows you and has no objection if your car is registered at his address. Your permanent address proof is also taken by them and also entered in their records.
Anyways, its been a remarkable journey so far and the delivery was done to me in less than 60 days from booking.
Tried my level best to hear all the sounds that our Dear friend Columbus was hearing in his Gladiator in the Ugly part, on my 200km drive back - http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/test-d...ml#post2442237 (Toyota Fortuner. Name's Gladiator Maximus Decimus Meridus. And I am Good, Bad & Ugly)
Couldn't!!! Initial Observations after 300kms -
- Highway demeanor is fantastic albeit a little bumpy
for which I was mentally prepared. It took a lot of courage to sit back in the low position in the Corolla after driving this beast for the initial 200km run back home. The Falcon touched 100kmph at the touch of the accelerator, even better than my Corolla.
- Everything works. No niggles noted till date.
- It just did NOT need anything to be added on to the vehicle and I was mighty surprised by this fact. Except the Black original Toyota rubber mats (which I bargained for free from the dealer), everything was attached to this vehicle. I am a type of person who likes to keep his vehicles STOCK and I was mighty pleased by this fact.
- The 6 CD Changer Stereo worked perfectly and now played mp3's (unlike my Corolla where I used a cassette adapter to play via aux in) and the sound quality was just like my Corolla i.e. Fantastic to my ears. Rating 8/10. I am not a boom boom bass person and hence like this level of audio in my cars. In my home-theater setup, its a different story all together... lolz. Loose 2 points for No Aux In and No USB. I am not a Bluetooth person so I don't miss that. Neither am I in favor of watching movies on the front screens. I have a 4.3incher android device which I have been using for ages for GPS navigation which I may need rarely. I still believe that in India its best to roll down the windows and ask "Bhaiyya, yeh rasta kidhar ko jaata hai?
". Anyways, the ICE upgrade which I was planning immediately has now been delayed seeing the sound quality.
- First thing I did on reaching back home was to set the Wireless Remote to give me audible feedback (from the horn in this case) on locking and unlocking as I was used to on my previous cars with Autocop installed. It required a little timing skills and 3-4 tries before I could get it right and programmed the feature. But I was surprised to find the level of customizations available.
- The doors auto lock on reaching 25kmph speeds and unlock immediately on ignition off.
- The Front passenger seat has a "weight sensor
"!!! It detects whether a person is sitting on that seat and flashes the Passenger seat-belt sign accordingly. Neat!!!
- The Dunlop's are still "Made in Japan".
- As I was used to the Toyota's I had no issue understanding the Auto AC system, which is a chiller. 9/10.
- The wheels were perfectly balanced and there was no lateral deviations either, which I had heard was needed.
- The MID showed a average FE of 13.3kmpl which made me smile. Still shows above 12kmpl in the city.
- The compass was perfectly aligned and North showed dot on.
- The headlights gives a bluish tinge sometimes when I see it in the back mirror through my Corolla. Looks up-class.
- No seat noises. All 3 rows are opened up. Ample boot space even after opening all seats (much more than my Qualis) and haven't felt the need to fold them till now and hope to keep them that way.
- The stitching of the leather driver's seats, the one bang in the center, is a sore point and hurt my back on the long drive. Was more at ease after I removed the seat's plastic coverings. The driver seat is adjustable for height (all adjustments manual).
- It is TOO BIG for the city driving here in Meerut (Though I see quite a few on the road here now) It is about 8 inches wider than my Qualis and about 9 inches longer though its about 1/2 an inch lower in height.
- The exterior styling is the biggest strong point of the Falcon and is awe inspiring when you touch it up-close. It looked much bigger when I started driving it than when I just casually looked at it on the roads.
- The front fogs have immaculate spread.
- The high beam is too high on 0 position of the headlight leveler and hurts the eyes of the oncoming traffic. I have set it to 3 where it looks OK.
- The reverse sonar is a big help in getting in and out of my house which is in a relatively narrow lane.
- The interior leather and fit and finish reek of a luxury car. All equipments feels built to last. Though it's no Superb but then the sensibilities at play here are different.
- The engine is a GEM as we are all aware and there was no hint of any turbo-lag.
- The gear shift is PERFECT and slick. Did not stick in any gear. Have NOT tried the HL and LL positions till date. Only driven in H position. I could NOT use the stalk as massager as mentioned by a friend as the vibrations were lower than my Qualis but obviously higher than the petrol driven Corolla (I like to keep my expectations realistic).
- The braking was surprisingly adequate. I had heard so much fuss about the brakes. It felt spongy for the first few pushes but seemed to have eased out at the end of the 200km drive and responded to my needs. I did not need/feel the ABS kicking in till now and drove at max. speed touching 90-100kmph and there was no need for any hard breaking till now. Will report back more on this.
- The ride quality was a little bumpy on undulated roads but very planted on the well layered Delhi-Moradabad highway.
- The wipers cleaned the front and rear windshield squeaky clean and front visibility was fantastic.
- The side rear view mirrors are much better than my Corolla and provide better visibility and fold and adjust electronically like it too.
- The traffic has started parting and I feel like Moses. The policeman on the road in this region, wave me by especially in a traffic jams for reasons I have indicated before.
- I did NOT like the single compartment of the deep center console and its hard top. My Corolla had a soft cushioned top which I miss here but the dual compartment in the Corolla (the top one being for the sunglasses) is compensated by the separate Sun Glass Holder over the center rear view mirror here, which was missing on my Corolla.
- I did NOT like the the Top Hard Finish of the dashboard. Even my 7 year old Corolla has a luxurious Cushioned Rubberized Top Dashboard finish. Maybe both these last 2 features that I don't like, are more to do with the SUV character of the vehicle.
- Quality of after sales service and maintenance cost I have already encountered over the last several years with Toyota and hope to see the same with this vehicle.
More to come on all these issues. I am posting few delivery photos. More to be added soon.
Overall I have 3 words for this vehicle - WHAT A CAR!! PHOTOGRAPHS What Greeted me on arrival (Don't mind the dirty service bay area); That's my "Waris" on the Driver's Seat, and my brother checking out the rear most seat space and amply pleased -
First thing I checked was the Engine Bay and Built on the VIN -
Some interesting views -
Dunlop's are still "Made in Japan" -
The Printed Radio Antenna on the left rear window -
The Classic Steering now with audio and MID controls -
The Simple yet functional Center Console -
The Key with built in Remote having a Built to last feel -
The 3rd Horn for the Theft Deterrent System (makes quite a racket when needed) -
The Trademark Bonnet Scoop -
The functional Rear Cooler controlling the air supply to the last 2 rows (only cooling) -
More to follow...