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Old 29th November 2010, 14:40   #1
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Default TATA Aria Pride 4X4 - Heart over Mind or Mind in the Right Place? EDIT : Now Sold!

A new Start, took delivery of the TATA Aria Pride - Night Shade Black - Black and Plum Upholstery version on 23rd November 2010

Would be covering the below points over the next many posts, pls do bear with me while I input all the data that the mind has accumulated over a significant period finally resulting in purchasing the Aria. Would go on to cover the drive and ownership experience as well. I pile on 75kms a day of both highway and city driving and plan to use the Aria as the main vehicle over the coming period. It would be self driven and so would also be able to give feedback from the owner-driver point of view, but alas will not be able to give the best inputs from the perspective of owners primarily seated on the middle row seats.

Just seeing the middle row seat am tempted to consider taking on a driver, but then the steering mounted controls, cruse control, etc. tug the heart other way. Also have no pets so cannot comment on how much the dogs could / would enjoy or not enjoy the folded third row.

The Journey:
I - Why a new vehicle? Previous State:
II Options and contenders:
III Selection / Elimination Process: Final Decision:
IV Which Variant:
V Which Dealer:
VI Price and delivery Negotiations and the Wait:
VII Delivery Experience:
VIII The Car itself:
IX Impact on others - Reactions in office and on the Road
X Interiors - Views
XI Exteriors
XII Comparison vs Laura and Safari - My other long term Cars.
XIII Comparison vs Fortuner, Endy 3.0 AT, Captiva AT, Pajero, Innova - Others that I have experienced for short drives.
XIV Initial Ownership - feel factor
XV First Issues
XVI First Rains
XVII First Service - am close to it right now.
XVIII Second Service onwards...
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Old 29th November 2010, 15:24   #2
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Default I - Why a new vehicle? A bit of history

I - Why a new vehicle? A bit of history.

Have been driving for 18 years now - roughly half my life. License is due for renewal in a couple of years. It really has not seemed a very long while since I did get the license to roll the first time.

Initial Years were spent with the occasional drives in a 1956 Fiat 1100 that we still have. The first car that I bought was the Cielo GLX AT - The top model with all the it's delightful features. The Safari bought in 2001 did not have the refinement of the Cielo, nor was it an AT, but it was diesel, could take 7 passengers, and the comfort for 5 persons on long distance trips was unmatched, parents loved it and I have covered almost 1,70,000 kms in it. It worked well in flooded waters but there were the niggles, the rattles, the TCIC engine power gap, the tug up hills, and the general lack of refinement. Checked out the 3.0 safari when it came - found the power gain to be more or less nullified with the wt, and the 2.2 Dicor too on doing a test drive did not have that much more in the interiors for me to go for it. Wife found it difficult to drive the Safari though she was comfortable with the Cielo AT. This was 3-4 years

Need for refinement got me looking at the Accord V6 AT in preowned form and this search lead me to the Laura L&K AT - Picked it up and was happy for a while, but its issues over the years simply does not today inspire the confidence to take her on too long a drive. Have taken it to Mount Abu from Mumbai and back, but it then did have an AT issue which luckily did not strand me mid way but it could have. It has worked well on multiple trips to Baroda, Shirdi etc, but still I have always felt a bit dicey while using it. Plus the rear felt claustrophobic to wife and parents - especially in comparison to the Safari.

Also flooding in parts of thane in major rains, plus having to drive the Laura delicately in traffic, not being able to see over traffic saw me still take my old man (safari) out for 1/3rd of the time that we have had the Laura. Laura did not ever become a full time vehicle for me over the 50K + kms I have done with it.

Needed something that was more spacious, robust, tall, big, and yet as refined and comfortable as the Laura. The current Safari was not refined enough. Had while buying the Laura hoped that it met my requirements, but though it provided the refinement and boot space with the benefit of AT, it fell short elsewhere. The search for options started with this background - Figured I need an SUV.
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Old 29th November 2010, 15:42   #3
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Was eagerly waiting for your report, keep them coming. Third Aria on TBHP, Congrats.

How about Safari? Is it going to stay? :-)
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Old 29th November 2010, 15:48   #4
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Default II Options and contenders:

II Options and contenders:

Innova - Ruled out immediately due to it's looks and an incident experienced first hand by me once; where I found the Innova stuck while trying to cross a small road divider between the main road and the service road. The main road was stuck in traffic and the vehicles which could were making the move to the service road over this divider and the Innova could not make the jump while the safari could. This incident coupled with the looks, Taxi image, and a few outstation trips in rented Innova's that were good but not too much fun on the inside made me rule it out. It is a great MUV, but not a drivers vehicle, not does it excite the buyer in any way.

Endy Auto 3.0 - Checked this out in week of it's launch, the AT was a bit attraction. Went with wife and though we liked the front and though the interiors seemed richer than the Fortuner, there were not gizmos worth talking about and the integration of reverse screen / satnav / infotainment system was not that nice - it seemed to be a noticeable after thought, plus the absence of climate control and steering mounted controls made this a vehicle from the previous gen. And finally the short seating, with no support to the thigh, and the bouncy middle row seating, and to some extent the short rear (from outside) made me disqualify it. Yet it is a good vehicle at a certain price. - Leading to the next option.

Endy 3.0 Manual Preowned - The previous Endy looked better - atleast to me - and a preowned one would come at a decent price so it was also considered. The fact was that preowned 3.0's were not available enough and did not sell at as low a price as I would expect, and then the seating and other interior features issue still remained so it too was struck off the list.

Fortuner - this remained on my list right till the end, i had done a short test drive earlier, and though the interiors, brakes and gear stick did not
impress me, nor did the ride position, I simply loved the exteriors, and this was one vehicle I always had an eye out for. It was the last to be struck of the list, for reasons I would mention in the back to back comparo that I had between the Aria and the Fortuner.

Pajero SFX Preowned - Again robust, reliable with a better ride than the endy, made sense preowned, loved the exterior looks of the SFX, I actually like the two tone paint job, but disliked the interiors and old gen engine and that made me cross this one off.

Mitsubishi Montero Preowned - Has all the pros of the Pajero, and even has good interiors, but the right number of them were not available preowned at the right price.

Hyundai Terracam Preowned - Decent exteriors, good interiors - but not available in right numbers plus the real possibility of spares issues in the near future if used as a primary vehicle crossed this one out.

Tata Safari 4X4 New GX - Yep even the VX is affortable, and the GX two tone actually looks cool, and has all the essential stuff, but it is simply not that much of an incrimental gain even of over the TCIC safari for those other than the driver to consider. Plus it depreciates too fast, lets try out preowned.

Tata Safari 4X4 Preowned VX - Starts of with 4 years warranty, and even after 2 years there are 2 more to go, available at close to half the original price it temps, but again there was not that much more than my TCIC on offer either in terms of image or comfort for the other passengers.

Honda CRV Auto - Test drove one, put off by petrol costs, short height that did not solve my requirement of the vehicle being large and hence a deterant to others, as well as more comforting to drive on flooded roads.

Aria - It was on the list prior to AutoExpo and I kept delaying putting my money on something else, but was afraid that it would turn out to be too sissy, initially i event felt that my worst fears had come true on seeing the final look and price, but seeing it in person was a different experience.
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Old 29th November 2010, 16:07   #5
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Congrats ACM!! The Aria is a great vehicle to own.

I will wait with interest for the remining parts of your story!
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Old 29th November 2010, 16:14   #6
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Default III Selection / Elimination Process: Final Decision

III Selection / Elimination Process: Final Decision:

Having Eliminated most of the SUV options and having waited for the Aria, was initially a bit disappointed by the looks. Had seen it earlier, but in
exhibition condition. Wanted to watch it on the road, wanted to checkout the final refinement levels achieved in the production ready lot.
So as soon as the vehicle was announced and the price disclosed, decided to check it out in person, before getting the family involved. Went over to the Wasan motors showroom at Chembur and there it was.
The Aria executives at the showroom were all new, more refined, but also more inexperienced, and I through GTO's review possibly knew more than them about the vehicle.
There was one in the showroom - sardinea Read and one outside on the Road - Pearl White. The Road presence was imposing, the looks were gentle unlike the Safari or the Fortuner. All the mildness on the exterior was done away with in the two tone interiors, the use of brownish black and plum coloured seats and plastics, the vertical brushed steel inserts etc.
The way the tools, and jack were stowed away indicated that there was a fair bit of application to the design. The Gear knob was steady when the car was started.
The Showroom guys let me do a short test drive as well.
Liked the Aria, but what would the family think? Wife had not found even the fortuner to be that impressive compared to the Safari, so will the Aria impress? She was not bowled over with the photographs of the Aria either. Family was not in town, so in the meanwhile checked out the Aria with other showrooms, lined up a back to back test of the Fortuner and the Aria just the day after wife was in town, and had lined up multiple quotes from 3 Tata vendors and checked on the Fortuner for availability or even for booking.

Getting back to the first short test drive - the showroom guys did not rush me at all. They let me take my time. I gave it a proper rip (as is my habbit - drive it in a lower gear than the speed demands - due to safari TCIC habbit) and it was fun and revved well, took it through bad bumps and rough roads and spead breakers at a decent speed and it felt composed and there was not a single rattle to be heard.
The smallish steering wheel felt like that of a car, and as like the computer game steering consoles. It was fun.
Seats were firm and similar but larger than the Laura, and matched the safari for comfort while being firmer, the footwell was smaller than that of the Safari.

Next - The back to back test drive of Fortuner followed by Aria with wife. - Have posted this experience earlier as well in another thread.
Have driven them both earlier, but this was to be with the better half and for a longer period.

Fortuner - Milleneum Toyota Thane
yes the showroom cum service centre appearance was splendid, there was even a section with children's play toys.
The Test drive was for about 30-40 mins followed by a 10 min inspection of the vehicle interiors.

+ves for Fortuner
Built to last - the single biggest +ve
Good Shift quality
Smooth power deliver with evident reserves.
Good AC
Decent Sound
A 15K kms old vehile with no rattles
Dead Pedal - required with this seating position
Minimal engine noise.
Brakes OK in the tested version
See the bonnet from the drivers position- which I like

-ves for Fortuner
Short seating position even at max height for a 6 footer.
All seats though seated higher than in an endy, were still short compared to the Safari sofa Seats, not to comfy
Gear Shifter rattles on start up and even later.
No Features at all.
Boring drive after a short while -gets about the task smoothly but there is/was no excitement.
Excitement levels were even lower in the second row.
Luggage space behind third row was quite less.
No cup holders for the mid row?

Galaxy Motors - Mulund
1 hr test drive on eastern express highway and in mulund traffic as well, climbing up and down flyovers as well.
The showroom was as grand as that of Toyota with even more display space, but yes a bit cluttered but quite commendable for size considering that the service
centre is elsewhere and that this is a new small dealer showroom.
spent about 20 mins seeing the car and then went for a long drive.
Kid enjoyed himself in both TATA and Toyota showroom.
Wife had been interested in the fortuner seeing that I used to kind of turn my head at times on seeing a fortuner pass by as also due to the fact that I had mentioned regretting not booking it both times the bookings opened, (second time was waiting for the Aria to be released before deciding) Had told wife that I would like to go for the one that we like more irrespective of the price differential of 5L.

+ves for Aria
Feature rich
Evolving ride compared to the Fortuner
Wife felt that the Laura engine and acceleration was similar to that of the Aria and the Fortuner though more powerful seemed less exciting.
Brakes very good,
Height similar to the Safari and Fortuner
Engine revs very well.
The Space for luggage behind 3rd row seats is really usable.
They way the tool kit is laid out is impressive
Auto bonnet release
The stance from the front 3 quarters
The chrome all around if nice and not overdone.
AC - Cools fine
Lights superb
Entry will be a boon for elders compared to all other SUV's
Seat and dash materials impressive.
Feels great to be a Indian seeing the Aria
Black and Plum upholstery
Merc R Class and CRV like rear window downwards swoop
The blackening of the pillars between windows leading to a clean black area look.
Engine sound inside was low, the car was absolutely rattle free, and went over bumps with even lesser feal on the inside.
The Wheel and alloys felt just right.
Reverse Camera, SatNav, the music System, and the screen for these is well integrated.
The steering stalks are well designed.
Butterfly wipers felt nice to have.
Matt Steel Metal feel garnish on doors and dash feels real good.
Lots of feel good parts, like the multiple second row airvents.
Cup holders for every one.

-ves for Aria
Can't see the bonnet - which is actually quite fine, but just a general preference.
Power delivery from odd gears a bit sluggish from the wrong speeds compared to the fortuner but if you are used to turbo diesels it is quite fine, and if you are used to keeping the engine on the boil then this is fun.
Some plastics felt better in the fortuner compared to the Aria on knocking them, especially in not too visible areas.
One does tend to press the steering mounted controls by error during the test but not in normal usage as one gets used to it, but this did not happen in the Fortuner even during test.
The footwell is narrower in the Aria than in the fortuner, but one is seated more errect, it can be a slight issue for some.

Verdict clearly in favour of the Aria irrespective of price, wife just found the fortuner too boring on the inside and on the outside from close the Aria actually felt better due to the richness of the the crome garnish (which is just right and not overdone) and the paint work. Fortuner fell stronger built overall but also felt truck like, the specific 4WD modes would almost never be used in the life time of most users.

So it was to be the Aria for sure after this test.
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Old 29th November 2010, 16:41   #7
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Looks like a great thread in the making.
The topics (to be covered) in first post is inviting enough.
Very unbiased write up.

I feel this thread can become a reference for people looking to buy a vehicle in this segment. (Personal opinion - Can also be a reference for - how to go through the test drive and buying process)

Waiting for the rest of the thread.
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Old 29th November 2010, 16:42   #8
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Default IV - Which Variant - Which Colour

IV a) Which Variant:

This is actually a decision that changed in time. The earlier thought - without seeing the vehicle - was in favour of the Prestige model. It seemed to offer the best value, and provide all that I felt was essential at the lowest price. The question then was if the Aria itself was worth the price it commanded. It took some doing to get over the initial hiccup of the price when it was announced: Viewing the vehicle in person helped.

My wife later mentioned that a lac more for the top model was not too much of an incremental cost considering the price of the vehicle and if one is spending so much why have doubts in ones mind on the logic of going in for any thing less than the best that is possible.
Also at that point calculating the benefits of the top model Pride vs Prestige got me to realize and feel that the 1L extra was worth it for what one got with it. Infact while contemplating even the Fortuner the thought was that in that case; the model to go for (if available and bookable) is the Limited edition one.

The fact that the prestige screen for the Audio and other systems was smaller and hence less visible than in the case of Pride was another aspect that drove me towards Pride.

Could have lived without Cruise control as I had felt that it was not of much use in a manual transmission car, but later on after actually using it have discovered that it is as usefull in an AT as in a MT.

The Parking Sensors somehow are more practical than the reverse camera as it lets one get closer to the obstacles in the rear, but front sensors are missing in the Aria.

Yep it is righteous to go for 6 airbags, ESP and TC from safety point of view and so unless one just cant afford it why not.
Also was tempted to consider the back and black upholstery - sort of all back interiors seemed cool, but family like the plum colour and since I do have a small kid felt that he would definately enjoy being in a colourful interiors car more than in something that is all black, irrespective of how classy it is.

So it was to be the Black and Plum Interiors in Pride model - Had yet not decided on the exterior colour, though I had eliminated some of the options.

IV B) Which Colour:

This was something where we selected one colour after another before we reached the final selection.
Initially since I have two dark blue cars, the thought was to get something to match, but the blue that is available on the Aria is light blue and kind of like the fortuner / manza light blue. It was not too interested it it.

Grey is no colour - though it looks great on the manza so it was out.
Silver though best for scratches is too common so it too went. If one is living life why not to the fullest.

Sardinea Red is the present brand colour for the Aria, and all advts, have it, it is a nice shade but may become common in time so it too was rejected.

There was the Champaign Golden Silver, Quartz Black, Night shade Black and the Pearl white left.

The quartz black which is slightly bluish and more like the normal back paled in comparison to the Night Shade back so it too was rejected.

Golden silver - as advised by the showroom guys - would fade and look dull in time - so an excuse was found to reject it.

That left just two contenders - Night shade back and Pearl White.

Pearl white looks grand and quite royal, while the Night Shade Black was unique (first time ever this colour would be seen in India on a car as standard issue). Night shade Black seemed Naughty while Pearl White seemed Straight forward and decent. I had loved the night shade back since it was show in Auto Expo itself, it seemed unique.

How does one decide? Wife helps. Lets see which one would look best next our house gate / wall. The wall is creamish (off white) and Pearl White would mix into the surroundings while Black would stand out.

Lets take something that stands out against the house background where it would be parked quite a bit. Lets for for Night Shade Black.

Views expressed on colours are quite personal and no offense is intended to those who like other colours. All colours are nice, and we each have our favourite.
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Old 29th November 2010, 17:05   #9
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the manner in which you went about eliminating colors is nice, and to end up with two totally opposite colors is very interesting.

I thought it would be more difficult to decide among the two, but your wife's logic seems very good!
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Old 29th November 2010, 17:05   #10
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Great Going! Almost reminded me the way I was glued to my car, when I purchased it 6 years back. I am waiting for more. Plus as the car is purchased now (going post by post) I am expecting aLot of pictures.

Congrats and have a nice long ride with this SUV too. BTW, Safari SOLD!
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Old 29th November 2010, 17:12   #11
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I was reading one of your posts somewhere and your signature reads "2010 Tata Aria" I wondered how come you havent put up an ownership review yet. Congratulations on your asset youve got me hooked, oops am I sounding like I know you? (mind over matter )
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Old 29th November 2010, 17:36   #12
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Default V Which Dealer?:

V Which Dealer?:

Tata has the following dealers in my part of town:
Wasan Motors - Chembur
Galaxy Motors - Mulund
Fortune Motors - Thane & New Mumbai
Balaji - Thane - Did not have the Aria on display and seemed a bit crude so was tuned down right at the start by me.

There are others towards town side and in the western suburbs but since
I do a daily run of 35kms from Thane Ghodbunder Rd. to BKC / CST road along the Eastern Express Highway, selected these three as their service outlets are also along the same path.

Had visited Wasan first and they arranged for display vehicle and test drive first among the three, so would have favoured them if the price had been the same or close.

On the Finance and Insurance front all had high rates and all offered SBI with staggered rates, but decided to get both Insurance and Finance managed from outside.

Also though Wasan gave me the first test drive and look at the vehicle they had a long lead time of 4-6-8 weeks, and that took the delivery close to december end. It just does not make any sense taking delivery right towards december end with no discounts with depreciation coming up with the turn of the year.

Now things turned tricky when Galaxy was able to give me a long proper test drive for almost 45 mins including a stint on the highway as well as in traffic.

Wasan was next able to show me the Night Shade back colour first.
Fortune had the dealership and service centre closest to my home. In infact visited the New Mumbai and Thane Showrooms of fortune and somehow the New Mumbai Staff did not impress much, while those in Thane were better.

Neither of the three was able to discount the price much or at all.

How does one select a dealer in such a scenario?

Delivery dates: Galaxy and fortuner were initally better off (3-3.5 weeks) than Wasan as far as delivery was concerned.

In the meanwhile had been in touch with an Agent who was able to get me the vehicle in 2-3 weeks through a DSA in Wasan. That clinched the deal for them.

The DSA managed this though a cancellation (on account of colour choise) order for night shade back being replaced with my order.

So sadly could not give the deal to any of the three showroom staffs that presented the car very well to me and instead the order was placed through an agent on the the DSA wing of Wasan.

The showrooms staff for Aria was distinct and seperate from that for the rest for all the three dealers.

There was a bit of negotition but that is another story.
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Old 29th November 2010, 18:12   #13
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Nice recap of the process.

All heads listed out; nice idea.

Wishing you a wonderful ownership experience and safe ride.
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Old 29th November 2010, 20:33   #14
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ACM, congratulations on your new Aria! Great color too.

Nice description of your selection as well as thought process. Looking forward to your ownership experience. I am sure I will be glued to this thread for a while.

By the way, where are the pictures? I haven't yet seen a picture of a Black Aria, and hence will be great if you could post some soon.
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Old 29th November 2010, 22:43   #15
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Congratulations!! So That's why it took so long

Unique, well planned and Awesome review so far. Am glued. Almost 5.5hrs since the last post, can't wait for the rest of it. And of course, the Pics
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