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Old 31st January 2019, 00:34   #1
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Default Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

Hello BHPians,

I've been away from the Indian car scene for a few years now, and the current set of options in the small car segement is mind blowing/boggling.

Will be returning in a few months and plan to travel around for a fair bit across the country, mostly travelling with my wife.

I'm looking for your help shortlisting a small-ish car with these features:

Must-haves:
- Easy to maneuver and easy to park in tight spots. I like our old M800 for its flick-ability into tight spaces.
- Light clutch and gears that slot well.
- Excellent torque at low RPM, even with AC on. I owned a Beat once and I hated it. Switching off the AC was like Nitro-boost.
- Good highway manners, stability, and low engine RPMs at speeds of 80-110kmph ( I don't exceed these speeds).
- As high a seating position as possible. This is to reduce the glare of oncoming vehicles to some extent. I also prefer a taller seating position, personally. I'm an average 5'6".
- Comfortable for long drives. This will mean a combination of good comfortable seats, low NVH, and a silent air-con.
- ABS, and crisp, responsive brakes.
- Driver+passenger airbags (minimum). Additional knee and pillar airbags would be appreciated.
- Safe body construction and a decent NCAP rating.
- Simple: Less gizmos, easy to repair and maintain. I prefer buttons and knobs over touch-screens and analog guages over digital ones. I'll skimp on luxury in favour of simplicity and reliability.
- Reliable: I'm expecting to drive through patches of road with no service centers in sight for miles, and through a myriad of road conditions. Creaks and rattles are tolerable, as long as the mechanicals continue to run and don't leave me stranded.

Good-to-haves:
- A fair bit of storage nooks to handle travel paraphernalia.
- Rear wiper.
- Low NVH at highway speeds.
- Highway FE of > 15kmpl
- Above average ground clearance.
- Good all-round visibility with A/B/C pillars that are not too thick and good front visibility (I need to know how far the car's front bumper is to the vehicle ahead)
- Steering tilt and telescopic adjustment.
- Seat height adjustment.
- Rear camera and/or parking sensors.

The car will eventually do city duty, but until then it'll see plenty of highway kms.

I'm budgeting for upto 7L before taxes. Petrol or Diesel? I don't have a preference. I like diesel for its FE and petrol for its ease of maintenance.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 31st January 2019, 08:41   #2
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Default re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

Elite i20, Freestyle, Nexon, Swift & Baleno - test drive all of these and pick based on whichever you like best. For some of them (especially the nicer variants), you might have to extend your budget by a lakh or two, but it'll be well worth it.

If you prefer a taller seating position, also consider the EcoSport & WR-V.

Be sure to read the Official Reviews of all these cars too.
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Old 31st January 2019, 09:41   #3
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Default Re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

I'd suggest the Freestyle diesel Trend+/Titanium for its small size, ample features and the diesel torque which it has.
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Old 31st January 2019, 09:54   #4
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Default Re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellmet View Post
Must-haves:

- Excellent torque at low RPM, even with AC on. I owned a Beat once and I hated it. Switching off the AC was like Nitro-boost.

The car will eventually do city duty, but until then it'll see plenty of highway kms.
For decent pickup without having to switch off the AC only diesels can be trusted at that price range. Most of the petrols in that range would need you to switch off the AC , if you need instant torque. However a few have a little less lag than others. 1.2 K series, 1.2 dragon series come to my mind. The 1.2 iVtec and Hyundai 1.2 kappa dont really have a decent bottom end.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellmet View Post
I'm budgeting for upto 7L before taxes. Petrol or Diesel? I don't have a preference. I like diesel for its FE and petrol for its ease of maintenance.
I would suggest a Ford freestyle Titanium TDCi. Has all the active safety features as well as the comfort oriented ones you want and some more. 2 airbags, ESP, HHA, TCS, ACC, height adjustable seats(will help you at 5'6"), rear wiper/washer/defogger, reverse parking camera etc. The build is decent and as you mention about going to remote places the added ground clearance(190mm) would be a boon. This one is tailor-made for your requirements and lately Ford maintenance cost is at par/lower than Marutis. The diesel is a hoot to drive with ample torque right from bottom end


P.S: If you want 6 airbags Titanium plus petrol model can be checked. Diesel will be slightly over your budget.

Last edited by SoumenD : 31st January 2019 at 10:22.
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Old 31st January 2019, 10:17   #5
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Default Re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

Ford Freestyle Titanium Plus (petrol) must be the cheapest safest car which comes with 6 airbags, ESP and TC . Ford cars are well built and fun to drive and are reasonably reliable.
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Old 31st January 2019, 10:45   #6
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Default Re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

Hope you're also mindful of the impending BS 6 norms and what that might do to BS 4 cars purchased in the interim. BS 6 diesel cars are set to cost a lot more, if you want to wait for it. BS 4 cars (and older ones) might get de-registered in cities prematurely - even if this happens only a few years down the line, it is worth noting.
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Old 31st January 2019, 10:48   #7
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Default Re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

Very well thought out requirements. Sensible, practical, utilitarian and comfortable, hmmm your requirements are so reasonable yet I can’t think of a single car that meets all your requirements.

The safe cars are Nexon, VW polo, Toyota Liva, but they also don’t meet all your needs.

Will be eagerly looking to see which car you eventually pick. Good luck.
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Old 1st February 2019, 09:58   #8
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Default Re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by locusjag View Post
BS 4 cars (and older ones) might get de-registered in cities prematurely
Not really. Even in Delhi-NCR, you will be looking at a minimum ownership period of 10 years which is double the national average of ownership duration. I wouldn't consider this to be a decision making factor at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalvaz View Post
Sensible, practical, utilitarian and comfortable, hmmm your requirements are so reasonable yet I canít think of a single car that meets all your requirements.
If you think about it, the first 3 you listed are actually all the same .
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Old 1st February 2019, 10:08   #9
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Default Re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
Not really. Even in Delhi-NCR, you will be looking at a minimum ownership period of 10 years which is double the national average of ownership duration. I wouldn't consider this to be a decision making factor at all.
Agreed. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever that government can suddenly go on a deregistering spree over the next few years. Heck, literally several millions of cars on the road today are all BS4 and older! It is unforeseeable that any mass deregistration of these vehicles can happen. Going by this logic, India should stop buying new BS4 cars immediately till next year, and the automotive industry should hang up their boots and quit selling BS4 vehicles till that time

To the OP: do consider the Ecosport, even if it means stretching your budget by a bit, it'll be well worth the additional outlay. It should take care of most of your requirements, especially given the fact that you are looking for a good highway cruiser. Especially, the front seating is top notch for people of relatively slighter build and should be real comfortable over long highway drives. If you simply cannot stretch the budget, the Freestyle is also a good option.

Last edited by arindambasu13 : 1st February 2019 at 10:13.
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Old 1st February 2019, 10:09   #10
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Default Re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by locusjag View Post
Hope you're also mindful of the impending BS 6 norms and what that might do to BS 4 cars purchased in the interim. BS 6 diesel cars are set to cost a lot more, if you want to wait for it. BS 4 cars (and older ones) might get de-registered in cities prematurely - even if this happens only a few years down the line, it is worth noting.
This is mere speculation. When the NGT ban arrived , they never looked at bs2/bs3 or bs4. It was for all 10 year old vehicles alike.

I don't understand how buying a BS4 or BS6 vehicle makes any difference for the end user.


Coming to the query, like most have suggested, Freestyle diesel seems to be a perfect fit.

Also , Nexon base variants(both petrol and diesel) might be in reach but I'm not sure on how the petrol engine on Nexon is.

Last edited by vamsi2390 : 1st February 2019 at 10:26.
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Old 1st February 2019, 11:19   #11
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Default Re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellmet View Post
I'm budgeting for upto 7L before taxes. Petrol or Diesel? I don't have a preference. I like diesel for its FE and petrol for its ease of maintenance.

Thanks for your help!
Like few others have suggested, I would say the Freestyle Diesel is the perfect car for you. In the top end model, it has all the right gizmos and features that you need and should fall in your budget. The new gen Fords are pretty light on the pocket and this one should be no different.

I have driven one and must say, the driveability is just excellent.
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Old 2nd February 2019, 03:45   #12
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Default Re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

Appreciate all the useful inputs so far, everyone!

It appears like the Freestyle is the overwhelmingly popular recommendation - a car I'd never heard of until I created this thread. I partially read through it's official review and like that GTO mentioned its flickability in traffic.

I was wondering why the Jazz wasn't being recommended and then I noticed it had crossed the 7L+ price point in the last few years.

I'm leaning away from larger cars such as the EcoSport and the Nexon for now, but you never know what car will change my mind after a test drive. I'm keeping my options open.

I'll be spending the next few weeks reading through the reviews and watching videos of the cars recommended here. That's going to be fun!

----
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalvaz View Post
hmmm your requirements are so reasonable yet I can’t think of a single car that meets all your requirements.
You cracked me up!

Last edited by hellmet : 2nd February 2019 at 03:46.
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Old 2nd February 2019, 07:33   #13
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Default Re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

The new Wagon R 1.2 either in the manual or AGS guise would fit the bill. Give the Ignis a try. Try out the Grand i10 or the new Santro for better build (not that great mileage).

Last edited by Durango Dude : 2nd February 2019 at 07:35.
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Old 2nd February 2019, 10:42   #14
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Default Re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

Checkout the POLO petrol. Lot of good discounts available on this car. We have a 1.2 L polo comfortline which is one and half years old and has done 20,000 kilometers. Most of that has been in the highway. We also have a 1.0 L polo trendline which is just 400 kms old and i like it more than my City VX CVT that i take it often inside city. May be i like the gear shift or may be the red color i don't know. Got the trendline for 5.4L on road including free blaupunkt music system and reverse cam worth 17k. Absolute gem of a car both of them. Safe and solid.
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Old 26th May 2019, 19:29   #15
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Default Re: Safe, simple, reliable small car (up to 7L pre-tax)?

Hey hellmet,
Did you zero in on any car ?
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