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chaostheory 10th August 2009 21:05

Car Wars: The City strikes back. How I bought an ANHC & got my mojo back
Aloha folks
Much whiskey has flown from the proverbial tap since I get cracking last year to shortlist a 4-wheeler to buy. Indeed, when I started the search in earnest, we were based in Bangalore, and here we are in Chennai, having placed an order and awaiting delivery of our 3G Honda City.

Here, then, is a short version of the saga for public consumption. These are our personal opinions and views, kindly adjust.

Broad selection criteria:
-Vehicle to be on company lease, and not drastically expensive (by which we meant: we were okay to go upto ~9 lac ex showroom).
-My work is 35 kms away, in Sriperumbudur. It had to be easy to drive.

Phase 1: Shortlisting vehicles of desire
Easy...we simply listed down all possible 4 wheelers that occurred to us (actually it was just me, with my wife a mute spectator at this stage)
- Fiesta
- Scorpio
- Sumo Grande (I know: what was I thinking?)
- Innova
- SX4

The following were added to the list by yours truly after I realised they were "nice" and some of the variants were within range!! (given that I would only pay for ex-showroom cost under the lease)
- Corolla Altis
- Civic
- Cedia Sports
- City

Phase 2: Test driving
Easily the best part and I had so much fun, I'm wondering if we made a mistake in deciding so fast!
The conditions we set ourselves: both me and my better half needed to have test driven it (if not her, atleast someone else from my family). Thus began a rip roaring time for me, my wife, my brother in law(s), my in laws and my elder son. Unfortunately, my parents are based out of Trivandrum, and were unable to soak in the fun!

Suffice it to say that a great time was had by all.

Here are my views (based on memory) of what I thought of each of the cars, and why we did/did not shortlist the vehicle.

Also bear in mind that as we moved back to our own home in Chennai, one of THE most important factors for us to select a vehicle was whether or not it could get in to our house through a fairly steep inclined entry. The pics I will shortly post should give you an idea of what I mean by this. We had to eventually marginally modify the entry to our front gate, after we had chosen the car of choice.

Ford Fiesta:
Dealer I contacted: some one in Chennai, I forget.
The first one test driven by me, some time in early 2008. Not comfy at all as far as rear seating went. For every single one of my tests, I drove it myself and also sat in the back, so thatís how I know this for sure. For this ride, I had my father-in-law along, and in his words, it was very "cheap looking" from the inside & very bumpy. And he has only ever driven a Maruti 800 and a Wagon R.
I have read so much about Fiesta being such a driver friendly car, yet I personally was not very taken up with it. It also failed from an external design perspective, atleast in my eyes, except if it was white in colour (this is probably the only car which in my view looks good in white, especially if clad in sporty skirts et al. The blue sport version you ask? I think it looks like a dinky car. All in my personal view. Fiesta and white car fans, pls do not mind).
So, the Fiesta was crossed out. My wife didnít even bother sitting in it.

Family owned car test driven.
Wife was keen on this. Drove one first for a short test drive in Chennai way back in early 2008, and then from Delhi to Gurgaon when on holiday, for about 50 kms. Impressed with driverís view, and thought it was fairly easy to handle and throw around. Way too much road and tyre noise filtered through. Family seated at back was suitably happy. I wasnít, as overall, it looked cheap, and not well built, Later on, also heard about reliability and other issues and dropped it. Resale value not great. Probably also because I didnít want to "upgrade" to a Maruti sedan. In my view, it remains a good middle of the road VFM choice. I had half a mind to try out the Swift, but sat in a co-workerís car and was dismayed at rear space. End of story.

Dealer: Lanson Toyota. Snooty, stuck up. Knowledgeable. Strange. Almost as if he didnít want to sell me a horse from his pedigreed stable. Whatever.
Overall impression: Looks like a truck. Drives like a Formula 1 car.
I also drove it on a few hilly slopes around Vizag when I went there on work. Great visibility, beauty of an engine, huge and spacious. Almost too huge for my liking. If I had the financial ability to buy an MUV and a small car, I would have gone for an Innova and a Swift, or maybe an i10 or some such. Not for now though.
Didnít make it through our entry criteria - our inclined entry to house gate. Bye bye Innova.

Chennai dealer in Nelson Manickam road, forget name, Sweet, bureaucratic. Insisted on test drive before 6 PM. In this day and age? You must be joking.
Wife loves it. She still dreams of one. Great visibility, good road presence, useless gear shifts, interiors remind me of those government babu offices I so desperately seek to avoid. Bad experience even while attempting to get a test drive arranged in Chennai, though my experience in Bangalore was far better. A bit painful to buy, service and maintain. Loads of accessories, but in my view, the basic package itself is flawed.

Sumo Grande:
Bangalore. Forget who the dealer was.
The dealer was shocked out of his wits when I asked for a test drive. He still got me one to drive though. Sweet chap. Tacky interiors, no surprise. Not easy to drive. Beyond this, I donít remember anything at all! Maybe if I owned a tea estate, and my Estate manager demanded a car, I would buy him one, second hand. Letís move on.

By this time (June 2009), we had moved to Chennai. The economy was looking up. Or so we determined. We (read that as I) drew a line in the calendar. To buy one by August 09. My heart leapt in joy. I got on with things.I started upping the ante, and asked to test drive a...

Olympia Honda, Ambattur, Chennai. Superb customer service. Hats off to Sivaprakash, the sales guy who got the car for me to test.
Whatís to say about the car? Scraped its way into my parking area past the incline, screaming its back side up my entry path and into my foyer. And sat there, mocking me. As if to say: Want me? Come and get me. (I declined of course, with a heavy heart!)
Test drove it from Mogappair almost upto Sriperumbudur. And rediscovered what a beauty she was. I had earlier revved my friends Civic AT in Bangalore ... what space & interiors, what braking, what torque, what a sexy, sexy beast, in a sleek, ever green package. What cost! This was the car my mom-in-law liked the most, by the way. If I had a heat stroke right now and my brains got fried, Iíd probably go out and buy this.

Corolla Altis:
Lanson Toyota. The same strange guy mentioned above.
Okay looking. Decent visibility. Cheap interiors, yuck faux wood look. Ok to drive. Better if I were to have a driver. I donít plan to have one. I was surprised to know about the J variant at 9.75 lac ex showroom, and was keen to look at it. Sounded VFM for me. But it didnít pass the entry gate test. Short story, aborted early. Had fun while it lasted.

Mitsubishi Cedia Sports:
Maya motors, Adyar. Thanks for your patience, Prashant (a very helpful sales rep)
The second last car I drove. The most surprising, fully rounded, great looking, spacious, capable car I have ever driven. Bar none. Overall, the best car in the entire list, feature wise. Also, the most undersold, badly serviced, un-publicised vehicle ever in its range in India. I even went to the extent of visiting the Hindustan Motors factory to check out the latest Cedia Sports version of this car. Suspension was amazing, driving a breeze, and visibility the best among all sedans, except probably the SX4. At Rs. 9.90 lac ex showroom, it came loaded with leather seats, MOMO steering, sports pedals, sports skirting and rear spoiler, Touch screen Music system, Satnav system, and Bluetooth call system. The works. But the new stickered look sucks, And I am told, it can only be ordered with the stickers on. Itís the brain child of a few senior managers in HM. Or some such crap.
This, by the way, was also the car of choice for wifey. She drove it, she loved it. We had already experienced it earlier in Bangalore when we drove in it with a friend of ours in Bangalore who owns one (and also took part in the TGDC contest, but sadly didnít make it). Loved it. To this day, my laptop theme pic is of 2 Lancer Evos.
Anyways, after test driving the next car, and taking a few deep, analytical breaths, we had to take a left brain heavy decision. What went against the Mitsu was the lousy resale value in India (given that 1-2 year old cars were available at huge discounts) as well as the not so great service network. I am in a pack-n-move kinda role, and may well have to relocate and maybe even sell the car, if need be. Resale and *** outside Chennai is thus important. Plus, my wife and I were dead set against the stickered look. If the evening news were to announce today that Mitsu has dumped HM as their boys in town, I might still cancel my current order for our...

Honda City:
Olympia Honda to the rescue again. Nuff said.
The very last car we drove. And I almost never test drove it. I was dead set against it. I had read the tech specs. It had a ground clearance worse than the Civic on paper. And limp steering. Cheap interiors. Was I in for a surprise. Nothing really screamed out for attention when I drove it. Until I red lined it. Twice. Once at night, and once in bright sunshine. All the way upto the Sriperumbudur toll gate. Suspension? Surprisingly decent. Clearance? It got peacefully in through our gate. And it was far better that I thought it would be. I invited most of my family for the test drive. 5 in the car. No bumps, no scrapes. Great news. Cost less than a Cedia. Has a boot larger than a Corolla, if my memory serves me right. Very decent rear leg space. Comfy seating. Good badge value. Super drive-ability. Decent steering. Not as wide as it looks, drove peacefully through quite a lot of traffic in my extensive (by my definition at least) test driving. And I can live with the interiors and iPod/MP3 only ICE.

Phase 3: Decision Time
Family liked the City. Son decided this was the car he wanted. After the Civic of course. I loved it. Good design. New model. Decent dealer close by. Good resale value, ok to decent ***. We went for it.

So there you have it. The search has ended. The drive begins shortly.
Color you ask? Started with Metal Metallic as the color of choice, have gravitated to Bold Beige. Wife's logic? Easy to maintain. I donít care. I just want the car to drive in.

The car, by the way, is coming shod with the standard Michelin (and not MRF, I confirmed this with the customary pre-registration visit to the check out the car at Olympia Honda). They have agreed to bundle in a measly set of mud flaps. And no, they are not body colored. Honda, when will you learn?

Am going with 3M sunfilm done at the dealer Ė HP 50 for front and back, ST 35 for the sides. Costing me Rs. 9000 . Reasonable? Comments invited from Team BHP gurus.

Alloys shortly. Plan is to contact Deepak, contacts kindly shared by Nitrous, and positive feedback and other details for Chennai from Fountainheader, im_srini, ph03n!x.

And did I mention that all this while I was trawling the Team BHP interweb, like a gopher? Thanks from the bottom of my heart to all of you whose posts I trudged through (there are way too many to name here)

Watch this space. Picture abhi baaki hai, mere dost.
Literally. I will be putting up pics as well.

shrinivasap 11th August 2009 05:51

did you get the delivery of your car? If not, when is it expected?

chaostheory 11th August 2009 06:52


Originally Posted by shrinivasap (Post 1425842)
did you get the delivery of your car? If not, when is it expected?

I am picking it up today, after the sun film work is done at the dealers.

ImmortalZ 11th August 2009 09:10

Nice writeup chaos and congratulations on your purchase. Do write up an ownership review as the odo climbs!

diabloo 11th August 2009 09:38

Amazing decision process !! Congrats !!!

aks_karthik 11th August 2009 09:44

Congrats ChaosTheory,

A good car and color selection.
Why don't you consider Linea?is this any special issue?
Enjoy the Beauty and drive safe.

SkyWalker 11th August 2009 11:08

congrats ChaosTheory and welcome to the club. So you have taken the Bold Beige, same color as mine. Great car - enjoy it!

chaostheory 11th August 2009 11:18


Originally Posted by ImmortalZ (Post 1425930)
Nice writeup chaos and congratulations on your purchase. Do write up an ownership review as the odo climbs!

Thx. Will definitely post further reviews.


Originally Posted by diabloo (Post 1425962)
Amazing decision process !! Congrats !!!



Originally Posted by aks_karthik (Post 1425969)
Congrats ChaosTheory,

A good car and color selection.
Why don't you consider Linea?is this any special issue?
Enjoy the Beauty and drive safe.

Knew I forgot something :eek: Did indeed test drive the Linea, here's what I thought.

Prerna Motors, Bangalore. Lived up to the image of a typical Fiat/Tata dealer. Had to call numerous times, and even visited the showroom, twice, before finally getting a test drive.
+ Decent suspension, great looks (classic Italian styling), decent sized boot, solid build, good tech stuff (Blue n me, etc), great pricing
- Cheapo interiors, underpowered (did not pull at all when I test drove the Diesel on Outer Ring Road in Bangalore), bad after sales service image, poor back seat space and low head space as well. Too much went against it.

Also, some how never seriously tested the Hyundai Verna. As a family, we were not great Hyundai fans. Looked old in design, and I personally am not impressed the interiors. Not so great rear space, and ride.

All in all, we fell for the City. And here I am, a few hours away from picking her up.

srinivas9446 11th August 2009 14:56

Congrats CT on your new car..welcome to the ANHC club. Mine is albaster silver colour !

write about your delivery experience.

In my opinion & experience , the cost of the sunfilm by any standards is very high...would you tell why you decided on getting the sunfilm done in the showroom There are good car accessories dealers in Chennai.It would costed you only 50% of the cost you are paying at the dealer.i have installed SP20- First Grade 3M Film.

Also just take a word of advise from the dealer about the suspension warranty, since the dealer here told me that any change would make the warranty void.

shrinivasap 11th August 2009 15:22

Congrats mate...i look forward to good initial ownership report from have really made a good research before buying - well done

StarVegabond 11th August 2009 16:00

Congrats for your new car and going with Honda ANHC.
with Honda you need not learn how to do things yourself, the dealers and after sales service guys are capable enough (mostly).

ofcourse peace of mind comes at a price.

my ANHC is also SILVER colored, no issues till now (3800KM done)
post pictures as well as your delivery experience.

Gilead 11th August 2009 16:58

Chaos, congrats! Olympia is the new honda dealer in Ambattur right?

uday.ere 12th August 2009 11:44


Originally Posted by chaostheory (Post 1425459)
Watch this space. Picture abhi baaki hai, mere dost.
Literally. I will be putting up pics as well.

Congrats Chaostheory. Splendid choice of car & color. Awaiting pics and your ownership experience starting with Dealership experience.

chaostheory 12th August 2009 16:22

Quick Driving notes from Day 1 and 2:
1. Engine is smooth as silk. I barely heard anything from her when I coasted to work on NH 4 today morning.
2. Interestingly, when I raise the seat vertically, my head almost touches the roof in the topmost position. All sedans I tested seem to have this issue. This is the only point for which I miss the Wagon R.
3. Music system is pretty decent (at least to my ears). It successfully plays music from my 4 GB Nokia E71. And obviously my iphone & ipod.
4. Took the family out for dinner yesterday to McDonald's in Annanagar to celebrate, (4 adults, 1kid, 1 infant). Everyone was happy with the suspension, seating, space, AC. We took a take-home package and rode back home, unfortunately McDs decided to shortchange us and gave us 2 burgers and a Coke less than ordered. Apart from this, the ride was great.

All in all, already a happy post-purchase experience.

I plan to drive under 2500 RPM for the first 2500 kms (or at least will attempt to). I drive 70 kms to and from work everyday, by the way.

Mevtec 17th January 2010 21:49

Hi we would like to have your feed back.Hope you are enjoying the car.Please post some more pics

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