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A new car for Rs. 14 lakhs, ex-showroom

I am in the market for a new car and I think I am trying to fit a square peg into a round hole here.

BHPian sramanat recently shared this with other BHPians.

I am in the market for a new car and I think I am trying to fit a square peg into a round hole here. So I would like to use this forum as a brain multiplier and seek advice from experts here. Or knock some sense into me.

Motives

  • I had a 2006 Baleno which worked pretty well for my needs. But when the cost of repairs and parts got to the 10s of % of the car's value, I decided to part with it. This was towards the end of 2019. Luckily I had my in-law's Ford EcoSport with me (he was on an extended trip to his son's place abroad) and I was (am still) using it.
  • My employer had(s) a generous lease policy and they paid the road tax on new car leases. I tried to get a Seltos, but the wait times meant I couldn't complete the sale within the lease window. In April 2020, a.k.a., the summer of Corona, the lease policy was changed and they stopped paying road tax. I was keen on the new Honda City, but I was stuck outside Bangalore during the lease window. Third time appears to be the charm. So I thought of getting the ground work done well in advance before the lease window opens in July-August 2021.
  • I hate paying taxes more than wanting a new car. So I've decided to go with the company car lease. Be it IT or the horrendous 45% GST on sub-4m+>1.2L engine combination.

Requirements

  • I think we will end up as a 2-car family in a couple of years. But that's a very optimistic forward looking statement. So I'd like to base this decision assuming this to be the only car for the next 5 years.
  • This being the only car and since my wife plans to drive it too on occasion, it has to be an automatic, preferably petrol.
  • On account of the company policy, it has to be new.
  • Should seat 4 (2 adults, 2 kids becoming young adults rather fast) comfortably.
  • I'd like to keep the monthly payment in the range of Rs. 25-35K. For a really good car, it can go to Rs. 40K.
  • I live in Whitefield, Bangalore where the roads are perennially dug up. So scraping the bottom is something I am mindful of. I don't need a large GC to go offroading, but somewhat decent GC.

Contenders

Below are the contenders based on my initial search in YouTube and Team-BHP.

1. Good on the wallet

  • Jazz - I'm personally leaning towards this based on chieftain's post. Spacious, Honda and somewhat quirky. But expensive for a hatchback.
  • Baleno (AutoCar's YouTube video from 2 years back comparing Jazz, i20 and Baleno had some nice things to say about the car). Plus, New gen Baleno replacing the old sedan would be poetic.
  • i20 & Polo - apparently fun to drive, but smaller on the inside. Should I check these out?

2. Okayish on the wallet

  • XL6 - Will come in handy for the occasional long drives with parents/in-laws. This is not a requirement as such and I can always rent a 7 seater for such trips. Leoshashi had some nice things to say.
  • Ciaz - very spacious, but given its price, it is similar to the XL6,. Why not go for a 6 seater? Do they have the same engine+transmission options?
  • Venue/Sonet - will be comparable to the EcoSport, I guess. But I am having a tough time navigating through the variants.

3. Stretching the wallet

  • Honda City VX - the CVT version is near the top of the lease bracket. You get 6 airbags and won't feel like a downgrade from Baleno (sedan). Verna is not spacious on the inside apparently. Rapid and Vento are nearing EOL.
  • Seltos/Creta - modern, newer models, but the petrol manual is what I can get within the budget. I haven't read any review on their petrol manuals yet in Team-BHP (correct me if I am wrong). Only 2 airbags and not so great crash test ratings is a cause to worry too. But the bling!
  • Kushaq - Appears smaller in the photos, and given the lease window and its expected arrival time, I don't want to be in the same boat I was with Seltos 2 years back.

4. Outside contenders

I drive very less - 20 km a day roundtrip to work, school and kids classes. With metro rail coming up near the doorstep, longer city trips (when COVID recedes), will be through that in a year or so. Highway rides are planned well in advance and are usually to various nature/wildlife parks in the southern states where the last mile is expected to be offroad. Every round-trip will be 700 km on an average and about 8 a year. Unplanned highway trips are rare.

  • Nexon EV - given my driving patterns, I can live with this car for city commutes and rent a Zoomcar for outstation trips. But does the base variant at 13.99 lakhs have the creature comforts? Plus, I get to stick it up to the taxman by not paying road tax.
  • Mahindra Thar - Getting the kids in and out will be a problem and I will be an irresponsible dad promoting sibling rivalry, but will the offroad trips pay for it?

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