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How I stumbled upon a used Q3 & got it as my 8-yr-old Jetta replacement

It is a pure Golf underneath but the quality - interiors, sound system, refinement & switchgear - is at another level.

BHPian ajmat recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I'm not one to name my cars but this one came with a name so in deference to the past owner (lurking Bhp'ian) who name his cars, I decided to let it stick. More on this later! As most BHPians know, there are two most challenging things facing a typical BHPian - The first is avoiding typos and the second, moving on from a Jetta!

My Jetta turned 8 years old last year. It has been utterly reliable although the bills had been increasing. Having gone through a difficult career phase and my cash flow improved tremendously, it was time for a well-earned treat! My criteria were simple:

  • European
  • Petrol
  • Able to handle 4 in comfort
  • Ideally pre-owned

I had around 35 big ones burning and could stretch if I wanted to. Ideally, I wanted to avoid EMIs.

My ideal car would be this:

BMW 330i

But it was too expensive and am notorious with tyres. Somewhere during my motoring evolution - I have ruined the tyres of:

  • Honda City - cut one, burnt one
  • Range Rover - sharp stone underwater
  • Outlander Sport - sharp ridge while off-roading
  • Volvo S90 - pothole outside Jodhpur
  • Mercedes E350D - sharp stone embedded in a road
  • Skoda Kodiaq - 2 down when I got run off-road in Spiti (so did the car behind me!)
  • Mini Cooper S - hidden pothole near Sakleshpur

So tyre durability is something that sits in the back of my head. So the hunt started. I would not dismiss a 330i and it still remains on my radar but used ones were rare and expensive.

Best way to meet my needs was to do a Graaja!

BMW 330i GT

Yes, it is still in the classifieds - Spoke to the owner. KA car but located and serviced in Kochi. It was a 2017 car regd only in 2019 as the current owner's former business partner (sounds complicated!) could afford the car but not the tax (sounds even more complicated ) and never used it until upcoming BS6 norms forced it to be registered. I also spoke to Graaja and Robi about this.

I flew out to Kochi. Car was in good shape but the tyres were worn. I made an opening bid of Rs 34L. The owner wanted Rs 39L. Tried to negotiate but was rudely ghosted. No messages were answered in relation to seeking a counteroffer. I do believe that there is an issue with BMW Finance - the loan is cleared but there are some penalties outstanding for missing some payments. Another BHPian offered Rs 39L but also got ghosted. Ditto another person.

With current inflated prices, he might get his target price but it's complicated!

Jaguar XE

Never buy this new

I spotted this preowned car on OLX but got no response. Why? It had been sold on to JLR Shakti and offered as a "Certified" car. Sounds interesting!

I rang ahead and trekked to Whitefield. One customer was looking at it when I arrived and was supposed to return for a TD later in the afternoon. I spent a good hour looking at it.

Alarm Bell 1

It was clean and waxed but swirl marks etc. meant that the presentation was not thorough.

Alarm Bell 2

The sunroof channels were filthy, later found that the sunshade kept getting stuck.

I asked for a test drive, which meant moving it out of the showroom. I gladly took up their kind offer of a latte and sat down on a lounger, watching an F Pace being moved out ignorer to get the XE out.

As I sat down, the caffeine hit as also bits dangling at the bottom of the XE.

Alarm Bell 3

Once the car was moved outside, I crawled under and noticed the plastic cladding underneath holding with a bit of "hope". The shield which protected the catalytic convertor was crumpled. My mind had sort of been made up! Fellow Mod Vid then arrived and we both drove the car. It was a bit old-fashioned inside, not an issue if it drove and steered well but this just did not move me. Engine note was flat and boring, power delivery was so-so. The Jetta felt better. Mind you, the tank was empty and the car was running on fumes. I just don't understand why dealers do not present a car properly. As we returned, another party came to see the car and dealer pressured me to make an offer. I said wait till 4 PM.

One point to note is the "Certified" only meant a clean car and some cash for the dealer. There was no warranty etc. Am sure if I put down a deposit and told them to sort things out, I would still be waiting. Viddy felt that I needed to experience something! He pushed me into his 328i, and snatched the keys of my Jetta and went for a spin. It was a big reveal, in how it steered and delivered power. It comes together seamlessly. Heck, even my Jetta felt better than the XE. Mind you, I do think the new XF handles a lot better than the XE.

I never bothered to inform the sales guy at 4 PM that I had decided no - Instead, I informed him straight away!

So - back to the drawing board! I still had 35L to put down and a wage hike, let's talk new cars and possibly dreaded EMIs- so the next Saturday, I spent an afternoon as follows at the showrooms in my area:

BMW

330is were double my budget. The Li looked too porky for me. The 5s were outside my league, also the X3. The X1 is the curd rice of BMWs - nourishing but ultimately bland and there was the 220i GC which was Rs 55L. It looked interesting so I drove it. It was quite nice but not a real BMW (Viddy- your 328i spoilt me!). Rear space lacked room for any hanky panky. The boot is a pill box.

Skoda

Drove around the corner and looked at the Kushaq and Octavia - well below my pay grade - I did like it but not the plastics. From what I later heard about the niggles, I dodged a bullet.

I then killed time until the demo Octavia returned. Took it out - it was very linear in delivery. Interiors looked like a mortuary - all white. Screens look nice in pics but felt a little tacked on in reality. The gear selector felt a bit tacky. The slot with a selector button was cold and tacky. No excitement there! It might have been a reasonable buy but I would always be looking for more! I felt I had driven an Elantra - it felt just like that - lots of gizmos but no soul.

If Kodiaq petrols were in ready supply, I might have signed up. Superbs were too big and the resale was questionable.

Mercedes

Popped over to Sundaram - Prices were eye-popping - Cs were not bad but so common. My poor wallet could barely extend to testing an A class. Believe me - it was not bad. Handling was good, the engine was great in town but I felt it would be breathless on the highway. It was nice but not worth Rs 56 L. The diesel would be a better bet but BS6 would not work with my type of usage. It also looks very anonymous. In darker colours, it looked like a stretched Verna in dark colours. The diesel is a better bet but BSVI DPF issues might surface for my usage. I somehow felt the A35 was better value!

A futile though interesting afternoon!

I now considered crossing over the thick black line to look at diesels also!

I then spotted a BMW 530d M-Sport at a dealer - 2014 - two owners - 45000km. It was in great condition. All it needed was some paint restoration. It drove well but I felt it was a little too big and the ride was too choppy. The two owner factor worked against it so I dropped that idea.

So then I thought it is best to refurb the Jetta and save for an M340i but the itch was there. I even started getting stuff done like a new windscreen, redoing the wheels etc but I did notice that parts were getting difficult to source (body/trim) so it was best to let it go eventually.

Then this 320d came up.

I happened to know the owner but it was all but an auction. I, again, pulled the long-suffering Viddy out into seeing this. Car was in excellent condition but the tyres and suspension might need work. Owner had offers of Rs15L. I offered Rs 16L which was Rs 1 L more than the market value However, the beige interior and outmoded Bluetooth interoperability issues did stick out in my mind. Unlike sticky relationships, I still had the option to pull out as there was no mutual commitment.

There was a similar two-owner car at Sundram Motors in an average condition going for Rs 14.25L - it later went off for Rs 12.5L. There was a message there! Owner took his time in responding (The sale terms were - any offer less than 18 -wait till Dec, any offer at 18L - immediate delivery!) but someone in his company gave him Rs 18L - one sucker born every minute and this one sucker was saved. I should have considered the Sundaram car and put money in it

Audi A4

This was not on my list due to the price. After Manson's deal, I decided to take a look. Audi was most obliging and gave me a test drive on the spot. In town, it was very nice and flawless but Rs 60L and no Manson-type deals got me thinking. Used A4 diesels were available around the Rs 40L range.

Later on in Belgaum, I took Manson's car and celebrated the end of its run-in period and went the whole way with it. It understeered on the limit big time and was a little bouncy at speed.

And so

During this intervening period, Lucy appeared on TeamBHP classifieds. I was in the middle of an audit. Got 5 missed calls from Viddy - during a tense break, I returned his call and he said = "Since you are considering diesels, look at this!"

Audi Q3 - silver - full PPF -36K - 2014 - single owner. Noticed that pics were taken in the Bangalore Club and the owner was a lawyer. Spoke to her husband (fellow bhpian) who was handling the sale and we met on a Saturday in the Club.

Lucy was well presented - new battery, immaculate. Had some paintwork due to minor scratches. She did need new tyres (was still on original rubber). I took her for a drive. She drove very well. Capable of more power no doubt, her steering was precise but had a little less feel. Returned to the Club and decided to take it further. My best transactions are where you form a good relationship and transparency with the other party. It also helped that I discovered that my cousin and another aunt were good friends with them. So I made an offer. 24 hours later, they made a reasonable counteroffer and the deal was struck on a Monday and I made a downpayment. By Thurs, all monies were transferred and we met at the club on a Saturday to complete the paperwork.

Why was she called Lucy - (I only discovered the name as they file her documents accordingly) - they are music fans and named after Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

What did it for me

  • The black interiors

  • Excellent Condition

  • The wife loves Audis
  • My press-on driving style on bad roads
  • Tough components
  • Very little negative feedback

What was the Jetta like after driving this?

The Audi is much more refined but the Jetta is much more tactile. The steering has more feel and the handling has more verve. I miss that.

Isn't this just another VW?

The quality is at another level. It is pure Golf underneath but the interiors, the sound system, the refinement, and the switchgear are at another level.

I still had the Jetta so I alternated between the two. First thing was to get the transfer initiated, the AASI took their own time. Jetta sold a month later, but both RCs came at the same time! Agents do speed things up.

Now mine!

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