How I won a Santro in a contest, by filling Rs. 2000 of fuel

This was agreed to and all in all, I paid about 45% of the car's on-road value as taxes (includes both Income Tax and RTO) and insurance.

Archisman recently shared this with other BHPians.

How a prize car became a prized car.

I have two cars - A 2009 Santro Xing (red) and a 2019 Santro (the prize car in question) and this thread is about the two cars.

I have run away twice from my license tests at RTO in my younger days, after developing cold feet and nearly ruining a few family member's cars in the meantime. Cut to 2007 when I was doing my PhD in Mumbai, when I finally got my license at a ripe age of 27. Having got a job, I finally mustered up the courage to buy a car and enter the 2009 Santro Xing. This after test driving a Zen Estillo and Alto. The car became my primary ride and has taken me to Daman, Lonavla, Pune, Alibag and Nasik (15000 km in 4 years). Low usage was mostly because I used to work in Mumbai High offshore for 15 days a month. The car has performed wonderfully and the pickup and highway manners is something to die for (a trait still strong after 12 years).

I was transferred to Silchar and thanks to HORRRRRRRRIBLE roads, the car racked up 4000 km in 4 years. Me, the missus and young son did a Silchar-Agartala road trip and that was pretty much it. As the car used to drive very little, I had to once change the entire steering assembly as it had jammed up.

In 2017, I was transferred to Vadodara and brought my Santro Xing with me. The NOC followed nearly a year later but it was a paper NOC and Vadodara RTO could not enter the data and the car pretty much became a dangerous alien in Gujarat. I was on the lookout to buy a new car and had zeroed in on Honda Amaze. Took a test drive and found it nice. It was then I saw a hoarding which informed that on filling up Rs 2000 worth petrol/diesel one could enter a contest of Indian Oil-Hyundai and the grand prizes were 5 i20 and 5 Eon cars.

I entered the contest just for fun in September 2018. I forgot all about that but thankfully kept the fuel receipt in my wallet. Suddenly in November 2018, I received a call informing me that I won a Hyundai Eon and they requested my details. Sounded like a scam but gave them my details.

Cutting a long story short, after many months and much to-and-fro between myself, Hyundai and Indian Oil, a new Santro was delivered to me in October 2019 as Eon had been discontinued. I was initially offered the base model of the Santro but politely asked if I can be given the next higher model if I paid the difference from my pocket. This was agreed to and all in all, I paid about 45% of the car's on-road value as taxes (includes both Income Tax and RTO) and insurance.

The new car is a white Santro which is parked next to my old red Santro Xing, its namesake but a very different car.

The new car has taken me to Ahmedabad multiple times and I have made a few trips to temples in Dakor (Ranchodji) and Kavi (Stambeshwar) for divine blessings and recently to Statue of Unity. It has raked up 6000 km in 1.5 years which includes the lockdown period of many months when it never went out of Vadodara.

I have added a touchscreen music system and a rear view camera and put on fabric seat covers. The car thankfully has not given much grief except a few niggles here and there.

I am in a prime position to compare the Santro Xing and the new Santro as I drive them interchangeably every day depending on my mood.

Some view on the 2009 Santro Xing

  • The car has superb pickup and can race away even on open city roads. I love it when I leave behind bigger and more powerful cars at the traffic light. It has remarkable stability at low speed and at very high speeds on Expressways like Mumbai-Pune and Vadodara-Ahmedabad.
  • Even after 12 years, NVH levels are minimum. Most of the time I cant hear the engine noise.
  • The car built is sturdy. There have been two major accidents (both involving other cars plowing into my car breaking traffic rules) and damage has been less. Most other cars would have been really gone.
  • Driver comfort is excellent. The tall boy design is a boon. I literally boss over Balenos, i20s and most sedans. The view beyond the bonnet is very very advantageous in city traffic.
  • Not so good fact is that 12 years and a discontinued model means spare parts are sometimes difficult to find and takes a few days to come even in a well connected place like Vadodara. This problem was acute in Silchar.
  • Hyundai service centers may be ubiquitous but costs have gone up steeply atleast for small cars. The car has died right in the middle of the road twice and I had to be towed away and repairs have been costly.
  • I love the tall OVRMs. Best in any class probably.

Overall in about 12 years of Santro Xing ownership, the good memories are more than bad ones. Only those who have driven the Santro Xing will know why it ruled city streets at one time giving good competition to 800s and Altos.

Some views on the new Santro

  • A very refined car (a very Mr. Darcy). Smart, suave and decent looker. A city car if there is a category such.
  • Highway manners are excellent on expressways. Never feel a roll even at high speeds. A trait shared with its older namesake.
  • Pickup, acceleration are not so good. For a city car, it can be challenging to drive at times.
  • Lower car means less presence on roads.
  • Noise levels are high, especially during early morning starts.
  • Very small rear window and not so tall OVRMs make reversing tricky. Also the older car lets in lots of light.

One interesting thing is that even with notoriously bad traffic manners in Gujarat, every one including larger cars like Balenos, i20s and even Mahindras leave way for the older Santro which commands respect but these very cars don't even acknowledge the new Santro.

That's all about my prize car and its predecessor. Two Santros joined only by their name and nothing else.

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

Power to the people