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Concerned about buying 20L car that hasn't been crash tested

Considering my family and the growing knee pain, I put down 2 features as a must have - 6 airbags and an automatic. Expanding on my needs a bit more, I would need a decent-sized boot (400 odd liters if I’ve to take my family out on vacation), ISOFIX child safety mounts, a good backseat that can fit 3 average sized adults or 2 adults and a child, a decent seating position giving a good view of the road with minimal blind spots, and a fairly enjoyable car to drive.

ggs_mani recently shared this with other BHPians.

I’ve been a silent but avid reader of these pages for many many years and I've always looked up-to this forum for any kind of auto advice I would need. Currently, I’m in the market for a car and would greatly appreciate any advice I can get on this. I started looking for a car before the pandemic started and then with the uncertainty of the pandemic I dropped the very idea of buying a new car. Now that things are getting back to ‘normal’, I’ve resumed my search. We’re a family of 5 which includes a 4 year old and 2 elderly parents. I drive around the city a bit, but also like to take the car out on long drives. Heck, I used to take my present car, a battered up 2010 Alto K10, on long drives, before I realized how unsafe that is! (Mine is the ‘top’ variant and still lacks any safety features). I’d wanted a safe and good to drive car that I would retain for a long time and would be able to have some happy family moments in. My city drives will be close to 40% and rest would be long drives in the highway. Considering my family and the growing knee pain, I put down 2 features as a must have - 6 airbags and an automatic. Expanding on my needs a bit more, I would need a decent sized boot (400 odd liters if I’ve to take my family out on vacation), ISOFIX child safety mounts, a good backseat that can fit 3 average sized adults or 2 adults and a child, a decent seating position giving a good view of the road with minimal blind spots, and a fairly enjoyable car to drive. I don’t drive fast on the roads, I rarely cross 90 kmph and on straight stretches of the highway, I’d settle for a 90-100 kmph cruise. I prefer driving slower and enjoying the drive and always drive with a light foot.

Considering my needs, I test drove the following cars. You’ll see that I’ve went across various segments, but all the cars were shortlisted on the basis of perceived robustness of build and safety.

Jeep Compass - Loved the drive and the handling of the car. Hated the backseat and hated the fact that 6 airbags are available in the top variant which is priced astronomically high.

Tata Harrier - Loved the drive and handling of the newer Harrier. The center console constantly hinders with the left knee, but thanks to the automatic it was not much of a challenge. But still one felt the car was probably designed with a taller person in mind, at 175 cms I felt like I just couldn’t get a comfortable seating position in the car. Car feels quite robust, but does not have a crash test rating published.

Kia Seltos - Loved the drive, the handling on the car. Also loved the fact that 6 airbags + automatic are available at a much lower price. Decent rear seat and the interiors were not so impressive nor were the quirky loud exteriors, but figured I could live with it or get used to it, and almost booked the car, until the GNCAP crash test results came out!

Renault Duster - Loved the drive and suspension. Also a great handler. But family hated the spartan interiors of the car.

MG Hector - I drove the petrol DCT. Has 6 airbags, not the most frugal, but fairly well appointed interiors. Liked the car overall and family also loved it. Not very sure of the ownership experience and also worried that like GM they’d shut shop and leave given low sales numbers! Also, the thing that worries me more is that there’s no crash test ratings available.

Honda City - Liked the smoothness of the CVT and suited my driving style. Didn’t like the seating position, and I had to push the seat to its maximum height to feel ok. Got used to the length of the car rather quickly, and the rear seat is very comfortable. Didn’t like the build that much but I keep getting assurances from everybody that Honda doesn’t compromise on quality and it is the best that I can buy for my family. There’s an ASEAN crash test ratings that is available for the 5th gen City and it is a good 5 stars, but not sure how much one can ascribe that to the India spec car.

This is one of the reasons I’m putting this post up, since the crash test results of Seltos, I’ve been looking at every car with a lot of suspicion. We don’t have Harrier’s crash test results nor do we have Jeep Compass’ India variants test results. I tried to lower my expectations of space and test drove the Nexon and XUV300 purely based on their safety record but didn’t like the lack of space in the backseat and overall didn’t like the automatic (an AMT) in both. Now I’m thinking should I buy a Honda City, didn’t really like the low seating position of the car, but the fact that it is a Honda and is reliable is appealing. But again we don’t have published crash test results. So I can either buy a safe car and compromise on everything else or buy a relatively unsafe car have a decent ownership experience and then pray!

Am I doing my family a big disservice in buying a car that does not have a published crash test results? This very thought is rather troubling and keeps me awake at night! It is very difficult to make a decision one way or the other with the apparent scant regard to safety that we see in a majority of the cars in India. I’ve been reading a lot of TBHP threads that goes into gory details of the build or the lack of it. The famous Hyundai discussions, the lack of a structural element in the Ford Endeavour Indian car to site a few. Furthermore, the lack of crash avoidance technologies in any car south of 30 Lakhs, compromises on sheet metal that even the Honda City felt tinny compared to a Skoda or a Jeep, adds to the trepidation! In one of the TBHP threads on safety, I noticed a video from Autocar India where the journalist was talking about basic crash tests in India and how mostly cars are safe and GNCAP helps take it up a notch. Also how GNCAP does not consider crash avoidance technologies which is the real deal when it comes to safety. But in the same thread, the journalist also says the "unstable structure" result that came out of the Seltos test, does mean that it might result in injuries for the passengers. So given all this and my needs, how does one take a decision? Any advice what family car I can one choose in India for a budget of around 20 Lakhs?

Thanks to ggs_mani once again! Check out BHPian comments for more insights & information.

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