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Old 14th April 2021, 06:36   #1
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Default How to buy a car that your spouse wants

One of the biggest problems with liking cars, is that people want your opinion on what car they should buy.

The opinion itself isn’t a problem, it’s the fact that no one wants an informed suggestion. No sirree, what they want is for you to rubberstamp their opinion with your ‘automotive enthusiast’ seal of approval. Whether it’s a family of four who wants a reliable car and buys a used Tata Safari, or a young man who fancies himself an enthusiast and ‘luvz’ the i20 Sportz, you’re trapped. Just smile and nod.

Now imagine you are called upon for advice on this matter. And the recipient of said advice is someone you live with, and who mocks you all the time.

__________________________________ __________________________________ __________________________________

Before I begin, I must thank
- DBHPian Sahil who went out of his way to advise and help me, to the point where he put me in touch with dealers across the country for the best deal possible.
- Moderator Akshay1234 and DBHPian Turbanator, both of whom I exchanged multiple messages on the state of the market and purchases.

Last edited by Rehaan : 21st June 2021 at 14:16. Reason: Old post - but making a small change as it was breaking the page on mobile :)
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Old 14th April 2021, 06:41   #2
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Default Re: How to buy a car that your spouse wants

My wife (MW) had an Octavia. Now the Octavia is a brilliant car – the 2.0 diesel is sufficiently punchy, the aircon worked well, the rear seat issue from the first Octavia and then the Laura had been rectified – it now had actual legroom, the interiors were not too plasticky, and it was generally a great buy sub-20 lakhs.

This, of course, presents its own problem. What do you upgrade to?

Now, to put things in perspective, MW is extremely decisive and very quick at executing. When we plan a holiday or move house, as we recently did, I am advised to stay out of the way, and if possible pack my own clothes. I fail at both invariably, but it should give you some idea of how things work. And they work very well.

Except when it comes to cars. In this case, MW is not decisive. MW will, in fact, vacillate for most of a year. Excuses such as ‘FY end means we will get a deal’ will morph into ‘we should buy after the monsoon’ to ‘last time I got a great deal during Diwali’ before the looming of a new calendar year pushes a decision. Then there is the actual car, which MW has to actually like. Since she is genuinely a busy person (which is why I’m writing this review), to arrange a TD and for her to experience the front and rear seats for any length of time is a delicate dance of schedules.

Anyway, it was decreed that a new car must be procured. The Octavia was getting long in the tooth – it had been with us over five years, and thanks to some idiocy on the part of a former chauffeur, went through some reconstructive surgery which left it not quite the same. At this point, MW pats herself on the back for selecting a husband who is both an automotive enthusiast (and former professional) and professional cheapskate.

MW: ‘Husband, I need a car’.

H: ‘But you have one.’

MW: ‘Don’t be silly. It’s old. I need a new one.’

H: ‘It works perfectly well. There’s no need to get another one.’

MW: ‘I like shiny things. Do not argue with me.’

H: ‘Oh, so you mean you WANT a new car. You don’t NEED one.’

MW: ‘Which part of ‘do not argue’ did you not comprehend, you nincompoop?’

Last edited by v1p3r : 14th April 2021 at 06:42.
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Old 14th April 2021, 06:48   #3
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Default Re: How to buy a car that your spouse wants

I was tasked with the research, bargaining, deal making, and all the other nitty gritties that accompany such a purchase. So I quickly went through some reviews on this forum and drew up a shortlist.

Octavia vRS
MW: ‘What?! Same car?! Why would I buy the same car again?’

H: ‘It’s not the same car. It’s a different engine, suspension, headlights, taillights, interior. And it’s mostly built abroad’

MW: ‘It’s the same car. It has the same name. Don’t argue with me’.
So the Octavia vRS was ruled out.
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Old 14th April 2021, 06:51   #4
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Default Re: How to buy a car that your spouse wants

Skoda Superb
MW: ‘What?! It looks like an Octavia.’

H: ‘But it’s really not. It’s even got a different name. And an umbrella.’

MW: ‘It looks exactly the same.’

H: ‘It has more legroom in the back’.

MW: ‘Yes, that will be very useful if the NBA ever visits. I don’t need more legroom.’

H: ‘It has an umbrella.’ (You can tell that the Superb doesn’t have a lot going for it)

MW: ‘Why don’t you take that umbrella and stick it…’ (Yes, I am often told to do such things)

So the Superb was ruled out.
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Old 14th April 2021, 06:59   #5
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Default Re: How to buy a car that your spouse wants

C Class
H: ‘Why don’t you drive your brother’s car and see if you like it? They’re very nice.’

MW: ‘A Merc? Aren’t they too expensive?’

H: ‘First you drive it and then we’ll figure that bit out.’

MW: ‘No, it’s too expensive.’

H: ‘Drive it.’

MW then drives the C300d, which her brother has. It’s a really nice car if you’re driving yourself around. MW does not often drive herself around, maybe sometimes on the weekend or some early airport runs. MW is most comfortable in the back, working on something or video calling her nieces.
MW: ‘The rear seat is too small.’

H: ‘Yes, this is a problem if you start from an Octavia. Nothing a level or two up makes sense in terms of space and comfort.’

MW: ‘How stupid!’

H: ‘I know, right?! How about that vRS though? Comes in red also.’

I am reminded, not too politely, that the world will not miss me when I’m gone. And gone I will be, if I continue to talk about the vRS.
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Old 14th April 2021, 07:04   #6
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Default Re: How to buy a car that your spouse wants

Now this means the 3 Series was ruled out as well. Neither of us fancied the A4, which is a tarted-up Octavia. So I racked my brains, and came up with the Camry.

Toyota Camry

Now there were two dealers in Mumbai, and both were very confused. One did not have the Camry for a test drive, and the other wondered why we wanted to test drive it at all. Anyway, the second one at least had the car, so off MW goes to the showroom.

MW: ‘I saw the Camry.’

H: ‘And?’

MW: ‘I’ll get a TD next week. But it looks boring.’

Uh. Oh.

MW has many hatreds. Most of them have to do with my follies, but nothing and I mean NOTHING trumps the cardinal sin of being boring.

I spent a few days extolling the virtues of the Camry’s hybrid engine. And of Toyota’s legendary reliability. And that it was basically a Lexus ES at a massive discount. And how since I owned two Toyotas, I could vouch for their reliability.

MW: ‘You drive your boring Corolla. I don’t want one.’

H: ‘But this is a Lexus in disguise.’

MW: ‘Yeah we should look at the Lexus, it looks good.’

H: ‘But that’s a Camry at an 80% markup.’

MW: ‘Ok we’ll see.’

The TD was had. The verdict remained.

MW: ‘It’s quiet. But it’s really boring. I wished I were dead.’

H: ‘But baby, it’s a great car!’

MW: ‘Do you want me to make you wish you were dead?

The Camry was thus ruled out.

Last edited by v1p3r : 14th April 2021 at 07:09.
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Old 14th April 2021, 07:18   #7
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Default Re: How to buy a car that your spouse wants

The Europeans
H: 'Why don’t you go sit in the E and see how you like it?

MW: ‘What is the E? Some kind of new workspace?

H: ‘The Mercedes E Class.

MW: ‘Merc? Out of budget.

H: ‘Just go sit in it and see. You’ll love the rear seat.

MW: ‘Ok we’ll see.’

MW was in town – if Prabhadevi qualifies as town – for some work and chanced upon the MB showroom. She walked in and took a look at the car. She then left, and called me when on the road.

MW: ‘I saw the E.’

H:‘And?’

MW: ‘I hate you.’ (This is a good sign. It’s rare. It means I’m right.)

H: ‘Why?’

MW: ‘The rear seat is very nice. It’s very comfortable. And it looks classy.’

H: ‘Yes, it’s a great car.’

MW: ‘Whatever, it’s too expensive.’

H:‘I’m sure we can work something out.’

MW: ‘I saw a matte silver one. They said it was about 2 crores.’

H: ‘WHAT?!

Now I haven’t bought a car in India recently, but inflation hasn’t been THAT steep. So I replayed this conversation in my head, and realized the only matte silver cars that MB sells are AMGs with the Designo paint jobs. MW had pointed at the nearest E and asked what it cost. The sales lady had dutifully told her that the E63S, that she pointed at, was over 2 crores on road.

H: ‘Ok no, that’s the imported version that has a massive V8 that is wasted here. I’ve seen them at a quarter of the price.’

MW: ‘Ok. What are my other options?’
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Old 15th April 2021, 04:37   #8
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Default Re: How to buy a car that your spouse wants

The BMW 5 Series

The very nice people at Infinity BMW brought along a 520d for a test, so that she could get a feel for the car.

H: ‘The 520d is not a real 5.’

MW: ‘What? Why is it called a 520 then?’

H: ‘I mean it’s not a 530d. It has the same size engine as the Octavia. What’s the point of spending all that money?’

MW: ‘I don’t know all this. I drove it, it’s nice. The rear isn’t as nice as the E, for sure.’

A few days later, the person from Infinity calls. Now, this gentleman has been told that MW’s husband knows a thing or two about cars. So he played his cards, and he played them very well.

S: ‘Ms. MW, I’m sorry to bother you during the day. I’m showing the 530d to someone in BKC, and since you work there, I was just wondering if you’d like to see it as well.’

MW: ‘Yes, my husband said something about a 530d. Ok, fine, please bring it over.

I get a call a few hours later.

MW: ‘How do I pay a speeding fine for Infinity?’

H: ‘WHAT?!’

MW: ‘I drove the 530d. He said to push the throttle. So when we hit the Sea Link, I did. It just ZOOMED.’

This is an accurate description of the G30 530d. I can hear the joy in her voice. Truly an achievement. MW is seldom impressed.

There was no fine, or at least none was sent to us to pay. The 530d is now a serious contender.
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Old 15th April 2021, 04:41   #9
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Default Re: How to buy a car that your spouse wants

The Volvo S90

I suggested the Volvo S90, because it was in the same league as the rest of them. In addition, Volvo has a well deserved reputation for innovation in safety, something that is always good.

MW: ‘Oh, very nice! A Swedish car!’

H:‘It’s Chinese now, like Jaguars are Indian.’

MW:‘Doesn’t matter. I want to see it.’

The S90 is an impressive car - here (Driven: Volvo S90) is an excellent review.. So are the folks at the dealership in Prabhadevi. The interior is pretty, the knurling on the air vents is real metal, and the Bang and Olufsen sound system is a notch above even the Merc’s optional Burmester. The BMW’s Harman/Kardon is definitely not in the same league.

It’s even cheaper to buy than the Germans. The car had two drawbacks. The first was the engine and drivetrain – 2 litre FWD – which was the same as the Octavia. The second, and lesser worry, was the service and resale. Now service is often an issue with any non-Maruti, non-Hyundai, so if you’re resourceful and ready, it’s less of an issue than you might think. MW is not too bothered about resale anyway.

There was a very tempting offer on a car that was already in the stockyard and had air suspension – which I was told the later ones did not. We discussed it in brief, and said we’ll get back to them.

A few hours later, MW got a call from the dealership. It was the manager. He seemed a little anxious.

‘Ms. MW, we heard you discuss the price and you mentioning you know someone who got a better deal. Please let us know if you can, and rest assured we’ll match the price.’

Now the price was secondary – we had not yet finalized the choice of car itself. But this attitude meant that Volvo went to the head of the list. MW and I respect hustle.
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Old 15th April 2021, 04:46   #10
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Default Re: How to buy a car that your spouse wants

The Mercedes-Benz E Class

I vaguely remembered that before Diwali ’19, I heard that a friend’s BIL had bought an E of some kind under 55. So I called him and asked for details.

H: ‘You said your BIL got an E for 52 or 53 right?'

F: ‘Yeah. Not sure what engine and trim. Let me ask him.’

H: ‘I want the invoice. Can you please see if you can get it?’

This went on for a week or two. We didn’t get the invoice, but we did get the salesperson’s number.

H: ‘Hi, I got your number from FriendsBIL. You sold him an E and got him a great deal, so he recommended I speak with you.’

S: ‘I have some great deals on the E. Are you looking for petrol or diesel?’

H: ‘Diesel, but I’m open. Oh, do you have the 350d by any chance?’

S: ‘I can give you a CRACKER of a deal on the 350.’

Ooh!

So now the stage is set for a showdown.

Last edited by v1p3r : 15th April 2021 at 09:57.
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Old 15th April 2021, 04:51   #11
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Default Re: How to buy a car that your spouse wants

The Volvo is a good car. Against an E220, it would have been a close fight. It has air suspension in the rear, which really helps comfort. The interiors are also very nice. The rear seats, however, do not recline. The car was decently priced too. In the end, it’s the 2.0 FWD that seals its fate.

The Audi A6 was not considered - the new model was just being launched, and again, it was a 2.0 FWD. The Jaguar XF was long in the tooth, which didn't make it very appealing. The Lexus ES is a very good car, but again, it's a very expensive and luxurious Camry.

The BMW 520d is not worth considering. The rear is too plain, and the rear seat is too upright – this seems to be an international issue with the BMWs. The engine is fine for what it is, but MW is also an enthusiastic driver when she has the opportunity. Once again, she’s slightly aghast that the engine is the same size as the Octavia.

The BMW 530d is debated. That engine! It just ZOOMS! If it were between the E220d and the 530d, it would again be a close contest. However, the 350d is a different beast. And make no mistake, it is a beast.

The E350d is down a few hp compared to the 530d, but makes up in other ways. It feels like an electric car, with a tidal wave of torque and 9 gears to help you row. The BMW is more frantic, and revs almost like a petrol, with that beautiful ZF 8 speed. The BMW’s suspension, though adjustable for modes, is no match for the height-adjustable, self levelling AIRMATIC suspension that the Merc comes with. And when you get to the interiors, there is only one winner. The BMW is like a Marriott, it’s businesslike and you get the impression it’s all a bit impersonal and cookie-cutter. The Mercedes is like one of the Taj Palaces. Every single detail is meant to pamper you.

There is a choice of two cars. One is silver, the other is blue. Both are previous model years, and have the analogue dials. MW doesn’t care, and I like their retro charm. Both come with a bunch of stuff that the E220 either doesn’t have – soft close doors, larger S Class brakes, air suspension, rear seat tablet to control climate/car/audio functions – or is optional, like the Burmester audio system.

The icing on the cake is that the ex-showroom difference between the 350d and the newer 220d in Exclusive trim – with the dual screens – was a lot lower than expected. The buyback scheme also gave us a ridiculously low EMI. And then, of course, compared to the 220, it has 50% more cylinders, 35% more power, 55% more torque. This is not a decision that is long in the making.

Last edited by v1p3r : 22nd April 2021 at 07:11.
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Old 15th April 2021, 05:51   #12
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Default Re: How to buy a car that your spouse wants

The buying process itself was remarkably mundane. Various documents and tax returns were submitted, and then they said we could come and take the car on so-and-so date. There was a slight delay of a few days, when our salesperson went incommunicado. We later found out that he had a crash while riding - he's a superbike enthusiast who rides an S1000, if I remember correctly. He was back shortly, though it was surprising there was no SOP in place to handle his absence.

I printed out the Alpha and Omega of car deliveries – the PDI checklist (ARTICLE: Pre-delivery Inspection (PDI) & Check List). Everything was ok, and I told the salesperson that I wanted the engine oil changed because the car had been standing in the yard for a while. They did all of that, got the car detailed before delivery, and everything was set.

We did the usual ceremonial key handover - hugely embarrassing for MW with me gleefully insisting on documenting it on camera - and were given a very nice cake and three-pointed star coffee. I was told to not eat the cake, so I did not, mostly. We gave our salesperson Rushad a little gift during the delivery process as well.


How to buy a car that your spouse wants-img_20200110_165717-edit.jpg
Here's the large and very fake key. MW's head has been edited out, to preserve my own. Rushad's arm is still in a sling, from his spill.


How to buy a car that your spouse wants-img_20200110_165641.jpg
Little stick-on ribbons which never fail to amuse me. I was allowed to rip them off, along with the seatbelt covers and the screen plastic covers.- I love peeling plastic off.


How to buy a car that your spouse wants-img_20200110_163037.jpg
This MB coffee which we keep getting served, and which I never have because I don't drink coffee. I'm told the coffee varies between excellent and average (at the same showroom), by MW, who is a coffee aficionado.
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Old 15th April 2021, 06:06   #13
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Default Re: How to buy a car that your spouse wants

The car was duly purchased, and we settled into a life of normalcy, which involves relearning angles while parking because this thing is MASSIVE.

It’s amazing how people treat you in a big car. MW looks like she belongs in one. I am mostly found lounging about in shorts and flip flops, with some graphic tshirt proclaiming my love for cars / stupid jokes. In the Octavia, I looked like someone driving his parents’ car. In this, I look like the helper at your local FNG that services Germans, who’s taking it out for a test drive. Once I was told to park properly, ‘nahi toh owner ko batayenge’. Obviously, this person had never spoken to MW, and didn't value his life.



How to buy a car that your spouse wants-img_20200719_133805.jpg
This is how long this land yacht is. Its wheelbase is longer than the SWB versions of the outgoing S, like the S63 AMG.

How to buy a car that your spouse wants-img_20201112_222404.jpg
Land yachts unite!

Last edited by v1p3r : 22nd April 2021 at 07:14.
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Old 15th April 2021, 06:20   #14
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Default Re: How to buy a car that your spouse wants

For many months during the lockdown, our sole excursions consisted of taking the car to Nature’s Basket and back. When I say back, I mean I would deliberately meander for a few extra miles, with my essentials in the boot in case anyone stopped me.

When we received the car, I was not entirely happy with the state of the paint. I then spoke to Pervez at Mazda Motors (Exterior work: Paint, Dent, Polish - Mazda Motors (Tardeo, Mumbai)), who said it would take a day to sort it out. Before I sent it to him, the car accumulated a little love bite on the edge of the offside bumper. Pervez sorted everything out, and the car looked spectacular.



How to buy a car that your spouse wants-img_20200628_192647.jpg
A very pretty sunset on the Reclamation stretch.


How to buy a car that your spouse wants-img20200515wa0002.jpg
Just how well waxed and cleaned the car was. I spent a lot of time in the lockdown reading detailing threads.

Last edited by v1p3r : 22nd April 2021 at 07:16.
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Old 15th April 2021, 06:24   #15
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The Chicken

With our Nature's Basket forays turning into leisurely drives around Bandra in the search of fresh vegetables and the like, the car began to accumulate some dirt. After venturing into the detailing threads, and barely escaping with my sanity, I ordered a small arsenal of products and implements from Amazon. I would then spend the weekends diligently washing a mostly clean car and protecting it from the jealous neighbourhood chicken. Yes, a chicken.

The neighbours have a chicken, because the old man likes his eggs fresh, and he means fresh. This chicken clucks around all day, and when it sees a reflection of itself in the car, it ATTACKS. The car is normally covered, so it sees itself only when I take off the cover to wash it. What follows is a scene where I am chasing the chicken, spraying it with my little water spray bottle that I use to spray ONR – because I read that small animals hate water on them, but it doesn’t harm them. I am reasonably athletic, but the chicken is more nimble, and because the ground is wet from washing, I often slip and fall.

Anyway, no chickens were harmed in the making of this report. Until the old man decided he wanted curry.



How to buy a car that your spouse wants-img20200515wa0004.jpg
The chicken, during a brief time-out.
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