Owner Feedback – Verna Fluidic 1.6 Diesel

The Hyundai Verna is one good looking car and its design is a wonderful evolution of the older, now retired Verna. This is a short post with feedback from my friend Jegedeesh about his Verna (based on some specific questions I asked him relating to his ownership experience).

Here are some photos of Jegedeesh, his son and his car ūüôā

Now for the Q&A:

How is the ownership/driving/service experience so far and how long have you had it (how many km covered)?
I have done 6800 kms so far and the driving experience is top class … the driving, gears are really smooth and especially the drive in the city is really smooth, butter smooth infact.

Hyundai has plentiful service outlets and i must admit that i did like my Kun Hyundai showrooms better .. they are more helpful and do a better job, but there is no complaint with the Gurgaon one .. they were professional.

You might want to understand here that i have my car on a Company Lease, so i do not spend any money on maintenance, but i did see the bill and it was just for replacing the Engine Oil + Filter (1500 INR).

What is the mileage it gives you so far (and any services & costs so far ‚Äď is it on par with your expectation at time of purchase?)
I get a mileage of 15/litre (mine is a 1.6 L Diesel) in city, i do not thrash the car, run it steadily between 70-90 kms and the best mileage i have got is 18.5 on a highway (not really the best motorway, but sufficiently long roads, between Gurgaon & Amristar), running @ 100+ kms. The mileage is purely dependent on individual driving style, but you can safely say that i am quite satisfied with my car’s mileage.

Any good points/features that stand out?

The car is loaded with wonderful features – Reverse Camera + Auto-adjusting rear mirror (goes dull on Headlight hitting the mirror) + Steering Tilt + Bluetooth integration with Mobile (Speaker + Mic integrated), integrated call + management of music. Space (inside the car + storage), brilliant interiors.

Any irritants or negatives that stand out?
Steering can be a bit wafty @ high speeds (especially if you are used to Hydraulic ones), car does get hit in humps or pot hole roads – at low speeds. I would have loved also better tires than the stock ones. The stereo is also a bit flat, the speakers are not great and the car doesn’t play DVD.

What are the accessories you added on and what do you feel are must haves for someone buying this vehicle?
I have added no accessories, just kept the car as it is ūüôā

Would you recommend this car to anyone and why ?
I have been driving a Hyundai for 7 years now (a Santro Xing previously and now this one) and they produce very nice cars and this car has a great engine, brilliant mileage and also good space. The car has the look & feel of a premium car with all features etc. I think it is a reliable car with good resell value.

Thanks a lot Jegedeesh for your valuable inputs – am sure it will help others looking at this beautiful machine as an option to own.

Automatic Cars in India costing less than 16Lakhs (Updated 2012, March)

Ford Fiesta Powershift

I finally updated the list of automatic cars currently available in India today after close to a year.

Now the list has  12 vehicles with the Dzire, Rapid and Fiesta petrols being added newly. Verna details are updated with the new Fluidic which comes both in petrol and diesel. Civic , Cruze and Corolla have been moved out as they do not come under 16L.

Here is the complete list of automatic vehicles costing under 16 lakhs (on road-Chennai):

  1. Reva Maini (CVT)(Electric)
  2. Maruti Suzuki A-Star VXI AT(4 speed)(Petrol)
  3. Hyundai I10 1.2 Kappa Sportz (4 speed)(Petrol)
  4. Maruti Suzuki Dzire  1.2 (AT) (4 speed)(Petrol)
  5. Hyundai I20 1.4 Gamma РSportz AT (4 speed)(Petrol)
  6. Hyundai Verna Fluidic¬†1.6 –¬† Petrol and Diesel Automatic¬†(4 speed)
  7. Maruti Suzuki SX4 ZXI AT( 4 speed)(Petrol)
  8. Honda City(4 speed with paddle shift)(Petrol)
  9. Ford Fiesta  Powershift ( 6 speed, Dual Clutch)(Petrol)
  10. Skoda Rapid AT (6 Speed)(Petrol)
  11. Volkswagen Vento Highline 1.6 (6 speed)(Petrol)
  12. Scorpio VLX AT(6 speed)  (Diesel)

Only the Verna comes with a petrol and a diesel automatic.  Most of the vehicles on the list are petrols and it seems very obvious that Indian Manufacturers expect the automatics to be primarily used for shorter distances where the diesel advantage of mileage is not required. The Ford fiesta alone stands out as a petrol with 6 speeds, dual clutch system and very decent ride and handling.

Also the automatic versions typically higher in price than their equivalent manual siblings. Add a diesel engine to the mix and the pricing may very well come from one segment higher. So usually the automatic comes only with a petrol.

The post I had shared in 2011 March about Automatic transmission vehicles is here with the original list and some myths about automatics. With the traffic one has to face in Indian cities Рthe automatic will become a definite must have for some reduced stress.

Some vehicles being talked about that may come out later this year with Automatic Transmissions are the Nissan Sunny and the Tata Aria. The Reva NXR that has been talked about for years will also have a CVT – whenever it gets launched.

Wishlist:

Now that Maruti has the 4 speed auto on the DZire – when can we see it on the Swift ?

How about an automatic Figo and Ecosport ?

Automatic Jazz / Brio anyone ?

Automatic Fabia / Polo ?

Tata is conspicuous by its absence in this list – they need to get something done regarding this soon.

Automatic Cars under 16 lakhs

paddle shifter
paddle shifter

 

Pls Note: The list updated as of March 2012 is here : http://cars.zimbly.com/2012/03/automatic-cars-in-india-costing-less-than-16lakhs-updated-2012-march/

Indian customers have limited choice  in transmission options. Most Indian manufacturers have decided to provide manual transmissions because of our well known obsession with the mileage of vehicles.  This has resulted in a state where only a minute number of cars feature auto transmissions.

This is the list of vehicles priced under 16 lakhs on road listed in order of increasing price:

  1. Maruti Suzuki A-Star VXI AT(4 Speed)
  2. Hyundai I10 (4 speed)
  3. Hyundai I20 1.4 Gamma РPL (AT) (4 speed)
  4. Reva Maini (CVT)(Electric)
  5. Hyundai Verna 1.5 SX CRDi VGT Automatic (4 speed) Р(Diesel)
  6. Maruti Suzuki SX4 ZXI AT( 4 speed)
  7. Honda City(4 speed with paddle shift)
  8. Volkswagen Vento Highline 1.6 (6 speed)
  9. Scorpio VLX AT(6 speed)  (Diesel)
  10. Toyota Corolla(4 speed auto)
  11. Honda Civic (5 speed with paddle shift)
  12. Chevrolet Cruze (6 speed)(Diesel)( at the outer border of 16L )

The number of vehicles over 16 lakhs with automatic gearboxes is significantly higher.

at-big

Common Myths regarding  Auto transmissions:

  • Low on power/pickup:¬†Myth. The auto transmission doesn’t have as much intelligence as a human and can perform to a certain limit of options as designed. It may not have the intelligence to shift down a gear for overtaking or shift as quickly up to a higher gear for cruising as desired by drivers used to driving manual transmissions with control over the gear used. Once you get used to the way the transmission performs you will be better able to drive it optimally. You will need to learn to stamp down on the accelerator or ease off it depending on how you want to go.¬†CVTs are better than regular automatics and within regular automatics the larger the number of speed ratios supported the better since the engine RPMs are better set with multiple ratios than a few ratios.
  • Low on mileage:¬†Partly True. Automatics are slightly more thirsty than their manual counterparts but this is usually do to a combination of slightly higher vehicle weight and poor awareness of the way to drive an automatic. How much lower is the mileage usually depends on the vehicle and the driver but usually the difference would not be more than a difference of 2 to 3 KMPL lower at the max. The difference would come down with sedate driving and careful braking and starting.
  • Very Costly: Partly true. Automatics are currently around 40,000 or more costlier than a comparable equivalently specced manual. Our manufacturers have traditionally offered automatics only on their highest trim levels of cars. If automatic transmissions were made available on even the entry level trims with just an air conditioner am really sure the response for them would be much better. Pairing them up with diesel engines would make them even more desirable. Currently a lot of people buying automatics go in for adding on LPG/CNG kits.
  • Automatics are not fun to drive:¬†Myth. Agreed they are not as responsive as a manual transmission but there is nothing like the comfort of driving an automatic in peak city traffic. You get to¬†relax from constantly changing gears and concentrate on moving without hitting anything or getting hit.¬†The few cars that come with steering column mounted paddle shifters are fun to drive without the hassle of manual shifting.

When should you get an automatic ?

  • If you are spending a lot of time in peak traffic requiring stop and go movements.
  • You drive your own vehicle
  • You are new to driving and just cannot get the hang of clutch and gear and brake and accelerator
  • You have only driven automatics till now.
  • You are ok with sedate driving and do not require the fine level of control possible with manual transmissions.
  • You refuse to let a driver drive
  • You have foot pain or a physical condition that prevents usage of a manual transmission.

When you should not get an automatic:

  • If you are concerned about vehicle cost and cost of fuel more than ease of driving.
  • You are very concerned about performance
  • You do not drive in peak traffic at all and have only empty roads where you need to go or you have a driver and just do not drive.

Auto Clutch ?
What about the much advertised auto-clutch conversion kits for manual transmissions that costs anywhere between 25k to 40k ? My only advice is first check if the dealer of the kit provides a guarantee and service in your city? Also get it done only if you have no choice as I would choose a factory fitted transmission any day over a bolt on mainly from the point of view of a factory warranty over a installer warranty.

Manufacturer Blabber:
Manufacturer Support for automatics has been very reluctant in India with the obsession with mileage.As of today Hyundai is the only manufacturer that provides an automatic option for all segments of vehicles it provides(I10,I20,Verna,Sonata) . The dealers are usually reluctant to sell you an automatic. They have been advertising the Verna Automatic which is a segment first and that too in diesel trim.

Maruti will dissuade you against buying the automatic vehicles. ¬†They will try their best to sell an automatic Grand Vitara on the other hand which no one wants in its Manual version itself. ¬†Strangely Suzuki which sells automatics in every other market in the world in India as part of Maruti keeps insisting that there is no market for it and hasn’t been serious with auto transmissions.

Wishlist & In Summary: I think there is definitely a market for small fuel efficient automatics, mainly diesels in all segments. Any hatchback car that has the Multijet diesel engine from Fiat is a good candidate to get an automatic box. They have adequate power and already provide great mileage so will not suffer much from having an automatic box.
Tata and Fiat need to look into automatic options soon to stay abreast of competition as the currently have ZERO vehicles with automatic transmissions.
Mahindra has the automatic on the Scorpio but need to start providing more options on the Xylo, Logan and Bolero soon.
Maruti – please wake up and add automatic versions to the Swift, Ritz and DZire diesels – please – and price them well !
Ford – the new Fiesta could do with an automatic with the new 90 BHP diesel as well.

PS: This post was actually put together around the same time as my I10 post but I delayed putting this up.Do you know what car has the steering wheel & gear lever pictured in the images in this post ? ūüôā . The answers are in my post itself.

Updated: March 10th,2011 and added the Maruti Suzuki, A-Star,Chevrolet Cruze,SX4 , Vento. Also removed the Wagon R AX as it is no longer sold.  Also added the below list of costlier (greater than 16L) automatic options.

Vehicles costing just over higher than 16L :

  • Hyundai Sonata CRDI AT (4 Speed) (Diesel)
  • Skoda Laura AT (6 Speed) (Diesel)
  • Ford Endeavour 3.0L 4×2 AT (5 Speed)(Diesel)
  • Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara (4 Speed)
  • Chevrolet Captiva LTZ AWD AT(5 Speed)(Diesel)
  • Skoda Superb 1.8 TSI AT (7 speed)

 

Hyundai I10 Automatic – Short Test Drive

One of my colleagues at work mentioned a problem he was having. He had one car (Wagon-R) and was trying to teach his wife how to drive. For days he and his wife would venture out early in the morning for his wife to attempt getting familiar with the car, the gears, the roads, pedestrians, two wheelers and also slopes of flyovers and railway underpasses. To top it all they stay in a place called Choolaimedu which has one long really really crowded narrow lane permanently full of all types and modes of transport.  Very little progress was happening from the aspect of the wife learning driving.

Finally they test drove a semi-automatic with the contraption called an “auto clutch” which gets fitted to a regular manual car. I remembered some ownership reports of the same and pointed them to it and they decided not to attempt getting it. They ventured back to the driving sessions but without much interest. Somewhere along the way when I was asked about the auto clutch I had told my colleague about the Hyundai I10 automatic which now replaces the original cheapest Hatchback from Hyundai – the Santro. He and his wife test drove the I10 and felt their needs would be met by it and decided to buy it. They got it for 4.85¬†lakhs on road with some corporate discounts and some offer.¬†I got to see the car one evening last week. :-).

electric_red

Outside:The exteriors look like any other I10 – just a small badge at the left rear stating ‘Auto’ shows something different. The car color was Electric Red. The pull type door handles worked well and the door was light easy to open. Felt very similar to a Santro. I don’t care too much for the front of the car but can live with the looks of the car from the sides and the rear. The rear roof spoiler accessory makes the car look much better. So will wider tires, nice alloys and dark tints.

Inside:¬† The interior was beige mostly except for a dark brown section on the dashboard which seemed to have no reason to be there and looked very weird.Front fog lamps not present and neither were the rear wash wipe and demister. I sat in the passenger seat initially while my colleague got the car out of the parking lot and onto the road. The engine sound was almost nil inside the cabin and the transmission didn’t have any weird jerks while shifting. He didn’t have any trouble maneuvering the car from the basement through streams of people walking around. We finally got to an empty stretch of road and I was offered a chance to TD, I had initially refused but didn’t want to pass this opportunity so I got into the driver seat.

The seating position was good and very “Santroish” with good visibility all around including from both outside mirrors which were just the right size and in the right place. The gear knob had a silver finish piece on top and felt just the right size to hold and also had the button to lock the gear in place when not pressed.

auto_trans

Drive: I pressed the brake down, started the engine and moved from Park into ‘D’ for Drive. When I lifted my leg off the brake the car gently started moving without any jerks. To pick up pace one has to gently push the accelerator and the car does respond. Of course not with the urgency of a manual but decent enough.

I didn’t want to push this new car much but before I knew it it was touching 60 KMPH ! No harshness from the engine nor any significant increase in sound. I could feel the automatic transmission shift up through the gears – but only since I was keenly expecting it and listening for it.¬† Making a ‘U’ turn at a break in the median was really nice, just stop wait and when a good sized gap appears in oncoming traffic just ease into it by pressing the accelerator. No attention required to shift gears up and both hands are free to manage the turning of the wheel.

The stretch of road I drove the car on was mostly well paved so didn’t hit any potholes with the car. The only rough stretches that were there we covered with great care since this was an brand new car without even its number plates. It had decent enough clearance for normal bumps and speed breakers without any issue.

Slowing down also was easy enough just press down on the brakes accordingly and the transmission moves down accordingly. I didn’t get to test panic braking but wish this car came with ABS as it would be good to have.

No tachometer on the version I drove (Magna trim) was the only negative I could think of… But again it is not really required for an automatic where the transmission will shift up a gear before things get too hot.

Overall I think it is a good car.It felt much better to drive than the last automatic I had driven ( a Santro automatic). I have driven an automatic Honda Civic  for a couple of years Рthis one comes nowhere near that car Рbut for India and the space and traffic that exists here Рit is definitely sized right. The pricing as always  I wish it could have been cheaper as it makes a lot of sense to get an automatic in crowded cities.

Ownership Experience:Since I took my time writing this up I got to hear of the ownership experience one week past purchase. The views of the two drivers of the car echo the differing expectations men and women have of the vehicles they own and drive.

The husbandwho was very enthusiastic about the ease of driving the car still says its very easy to drive in peak traffic but has now started cribbing that it doesn’t give the rush and response as his car a manual transmission Wagon-R. He is back to driving his manual shift car.

The wife on the other hand is overjoyed at getting a car of her own that she can drive almost everywhere due to its compact size, good visibility and most of all she can concentrate on the road and on avoiding the many million maniacs driving alongside without any worry whatsoever about stalling the engine on starting or needing to worry about shifting up and shifting down and clutch modulation etc. Within a day of purchase she was happily driving through the railway subway near Loyola college coming from Nungambakkam towards Choolaimedu which has a pretty nasty upward slope ending at a stop light which 99% of the time will always be red forcing the motorists to wait on the upward slope.

Agony usually happens in new drivers who have to start off from a stop on a slope and usual mistakes while starting are rolling too far backwards and hitting the vehicles behind, cars in front rolling back and hitting your car or the most common one of stalling the engine and not being able to start back again. Honks from motorists behind the new driver will add to the stress. This crazy slope is now handled by this new driver with the automatic geared car where she only has to press the accelerator just enough to move up. Husband still has to sit with his eyes closed beside her but that’s better than having to watch the road, her and keep reminding her to shift up since the 1st gear alone cannot be used :-).

The wife who loves this car so much hasn’t driven manual transmission cars enough to appreciate the fine level of control – for such a driver the automatic makes a lot of sense and can be the best thing for them to drive. For drivers very experienced with squeezing out the most of mileage and power from their vehicles an automatic may not be very engaging to drive.

PS: One item I do not have but will update later is the actual fuel efficiency of the car. Hope to get it from the owners after they drive it for a bit.

Photos: From the Hyundai India I10 Website – since I didn’t have my proper camera with me and the ones with the phone camera suck ūüôĀ

External Link:An old post on Cybersteering that has a round up of automatics available back then and with tips on how to drive with an automatic: http://www.cybersteering.com/cruise/feature/karma/auto.html

Auto Clutch review : http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/accessory-part-reviews/47407-autoclutch-review.html?highlight=hyundai+I10+automatic

Other I10 Auto Reviews: http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/test-drives-initial-ownership-reports/50519-another-automatic-house-i10-automatic.html

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/test-drives-initial-ownership-reports/56981-my-new-hyundai-i10-automatic.html

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/test-drives-initial-ownership-reports/57765-yet-another-hyundai-i10-automatic-w-pics.html

Diesel Hatchbacks Comparison Chart Updated with Hyundai I20 CRDI

The diesel hatchback comparison chart is now updated to include the Hyundai I20 CRDI Diesel. The comparison is for the highest end trims for all models. Why ? Because only then can we compare features to features. the lower end trims are basically diesel engine and chassis.

The list now contains the following:

  • Ford Fusion Plus TDCi
  • Skoda Fabia 1.4 TDI Elegance
  • Getz Prime 1.5 CRDI GVS
  • Suzuki Swift VDI ABS
  • Suzuki Ritz VDI ABS
  • Grande Punto Emotion Pack Multijet
  • Hyundai I20 Asta (O) CRDI
  • Palio Stile 1.3 SDX
  • Indica Vista Aura Quadrajet
  • Indica Vista Aqua TDI
  • Tata Indica V2 DLS BS III

The specifications are now color coded to indicate the largest dimension/best value/cheapest cost(green) and lowest dimension/value /highest cost(red). Hope this sheet is easier to read now.

The costliest is still the Skoda Fabia and the cheapest still remains the Indica V2. 

The I20 is the second costliest in this comparison but also comes with a long list of features even longer than the Fabia.

Middle of the list with medium features and middle of road price is the Swift and the Ritz.

Here is the list : Diesel Hatchbacks Comparison Chart. Here was my original post on the diesel hatchbacks with more analysis on the data: Are you looking for a Diesel Hatchback ?

Thanks: A lot of feedback, errata identification and great suggestions from Jacob, Manoj and Vasu were used to update the older sheet  РThank you for reading through in detail and giving valuable feedback and pointing out the many errors !

Some items still pending such as mileage data for the latest updated cars and the performance figures for acceleration and braking. This will be done in the next update.

The I20 & I: I tried checking with the Hyundai dealership I bought my Getz from but they still do not have a registered Diesel or Automatic available for TD. They have promised to get me a TD as soon as their vehicles get registered.

Accident, Repairs, Ritz Test Drive & Recovery

The title just about sums up the end of my past week and my weekend.

Accident: Last Thursday on the way back home from work was trying very hard to drive without getting bugged by the many jokers/morons/imbeciles on the road. I get no further than 5 km from office, when starting off from a signal,  in my Swift get hit by another Swift !  I was in the center lane going straight, had a Tata Ace to my left and the Swift on my right.

The signal changes and I start off on the way ahead since there is no traffic ahead of me. Tata Ace also starts off to my left. There is some two wheeler in front of the Swift to my right, waiting to turn right ¬†so he cannot go straight ! What does the Swift joker do ? Turn left suddenly without checking whats moving on his left. I hear a the screech of metal on metal and though it didn’t sound too bad I knew my car was hit. ¬†Since there was a lot of traffic I had to take car to go straight put on my left indicator and try to move to the left. I see the Swift that hit me also come up and ahead of me and stop. ¬†I get out of my car to see that my car is scratched from the driver side door all the way down the rear passenger door till a little before the wheel arch ¬†:-(. ¬†Another point – the driver at the back has to take care not the one in front – our dude doesnt know all such rules. The location of the scratches is proof enough for me – from my driver door and backwards. I didnt even see the car to my left cutting into me since he was behind me and in my blind spot – but I was very clear – I was going straight and was in my lane.

Swift Accident
Scratches on Swift. Me and the Swift at the service center.

The guy driving the other car has come to my car by then and guess what – he asks me why I didn’t check before turning ¬†in front of him ! ¬†I was pretty shocked and told him dude I was in the correct lane going straight and he was the one cutting lanes without looking. ¬†He just didn’t want to listen. ¬†Kept repeating that I turned in front of him and that he was in the right lane turning right and that I was turing right as well !

I go look at his car. Its hood and bonnet was covered with bird droppings and there were several dents and dings all over and the car looked like it hadnt been washed since the last rains. Its front number plate was bent in two places. ¬†It was very obvious he was not a careful driver and more obvious that he didn’t take much care of his car. ¬†His left mirror was folded in (probably busted already) and his bumper was hanging off its mounting brackets. The height of irritation for me was knowing that most of the dents on his car were not due to my car. Maximum there was a scratch on his bumper. I am willing to bet the bumper was already hanging loose !

I told him listen Рyour car has damage and so does mine Рso what do you expect me to do ?  I stood there quietly for a while and said nothing (fuming inside). The guy realised he is not getting any money out of me  Рhe seemed more than happy to go away. I was bugged and furious that I took a photo of his number plate with my phone cam. I have the plate number with me.  What good is it for Рwill mention it a bit later.

I sat in the car for a bit to let my BP and heart rate come down Рthen resumed my journey.  Worst part was I was watching my speed before the hit while usually I have to admit I would have been speeding down that stretch ! The one day of all days I was going carefully.

Another 7 km later and within 2-3 km of where I stay I see the bird crap covered car.  All that he told me earlier about wanting to turn right was all lies. The place he was going to was totally in the direction I was going. He was in the wrong lane at that signal and cut lanes at the last minute !  I get the damage to my car !

Anyways after spending a miserable evening at home, the next day I leave the car at home and take the train to work. I schedule a service appointment for my 20K service and also to get the paint touched up. I was supposed to do a service booking but had forgotten about it till the scratches reminded me.

Repairs:

Swift Odo at 20K
Swift Odo at 20K
I was glad the service advisor wasn’t pushing me to get the whole door panels repainted and said that a touch up was enough. ¬†Luckily there was only minor denting and nothing too drastic. ¬†I mentioned the rattling sounds that were driving me nuts that came from the left passenger door and from the right driver door and from the hatch. ¬†No mechanical issues. Mileage I was getting was on par with what was expected of the petrol swift. Was getting around 11.5+ when they said around 12 was normal for city driving. ¬†I have 205 section tires so was expecting only that much.
One of my many buddies at the Service center offered to lookup the number plate of the Swift that hit me after he heard about the accidental damage  Рbut I told him not to bother since there was nothing further I was going to do to him anyways. I can fantasize about it but reality is that I am no goonda and dont have time to go take panga with every moron on the road.  :-(.
Yet another service advisor was intrigued and puzzled by the dog-bite mark damage on the front wheel arches. My car is being recognized as one with the bite marks by pretty much all the folks there !

Ritz VDI Diesel Test Drive:

While scheduling the service I had called up my favourite ¬†sales person at the dealership Mr. Jayavel who had sold me my Swift and asked to schedule a TD of the Ritz diesel. I was not able to TD it the last time I had visited there with my friend who was looking to buy a new car. ¬†Mr Jayavel knew I had no interest in buying a car but still ensured the car was there waiting for me. He even delayed a trip to a customer location to ensure I got my test drive – waiting for over one hour from the original time I had mentioned since I was stuck waiting for the service advisor to meet me and take my vehicle in for service. ¬†That’s what I call service from a sales person who knew from the beginning that he will not make a paisa from giving me a test drive but still took the pains to arrange one for me .

For that reason alone I am doing something I haven’t done so far – If you are in Chennai or know someone in Chennai looking to buy a car (specifically a Maruti) – please do give a call to¬†Mr Jayavel at 9841727884 and mention you heard of his service from his old customer (me). ¬†He is part of the dealership team that is specific to handling corporate customers so be assured of professional service from him.¬†Please note – I make no monetary benefit from mentioning his number or this – this is just my way of saying thanks ! ¬†(I refuse to mention which dealer – as I am not endorsing the dealer – please do not ask).

Ritz Diesel Experience: Only at the start was there some noise to indicate it was a diesel. After that it was super smooth and silent just like the Ritz Petrol. The clutch was as light as my own petrol Swift and the gears slotted in very very nicely with good feel just like the petrol Ritz. As I had mentioned in my comparison post the gear selector seemed better than the Swift. The steering was light and the car was easy to move through traffic. Just managed to drive it for 2-3 km as the sales person was needing to take it someplace to a customer’s home and was already late. ¬†I didn’t get a chance to check its pickup or braking since it was in traffic but just one time I was able to floor the accelerator , the car hesitated a very little bit before picking up speed at a very fast pace after 2000 RPM bringing a wide smile to my face. ¬†I really want a longer test drive. :-).

Recovery:

On Sunday managed to rest and recover from the shock the bill of the 20,000 Km ¬†service gave me. Around Rs 6800 was the total amount of which 250 was for mud flaps that were changed on my request since one of them was torn after having been hit by a biker. The scratches were mostly removed by polish but the deeper gashes had to be touched up by hand. This wasn’t done very well but hides the damage for now and I do not have to worry about rust. I didn’t realize that the 20K service was this costly. Will scan the bill and put up the detailed break up in a separate post. This is the highest ever I have paid for scheduled service so far in my 2+ years of ownership.

Welcome To India – Fiat Grande Punto !

Fiat Grande Punto
Fiat Grande Punto

Call me biased but I think my very favourite Automotive Bloggers (IndianAutosBlog.com, Motorbeam.com,  Vicky.in & wheelosphere.org etc.) and discussion forum (www.team-bhp.com)  did a much better job than mainstream media and Fiat India before and after the launch of the Grande Punto on the 17th providing photos, writeups and specifications for several days and weeks prior.  Most information about the new vehicle and the specifications were out on the net for several days.www.zigwheels.com even had a review of the car yesterday. It was no surprise to hear of the engine options at all from Fiat. The only item worthy of waiting for the launch was the price of the variants.

My hatchback comparison charts are updated with the Grande Punto details for both the Petrol and Diesel versions.  Please click here for the Petrol Comparisons and here for the Diesel Comparisons. I have used only the top of the line versions of petrol and diesel in the comparison.

Innovative and useful features of the Grande Punto:

  • Tail Lamps are out of harms way. Hopefully fewer dings will occur where they are placed.
  • The climate control with pollen filter – good for those with allergies.
  • The service check reminders are useful. They can get annoying if they malfunction however :-).
  • Having the ignition key in a position that the driver can easily see is definitely a welcome feature.
  • The Programmable speed limit warning again is useful but may get annoying.
  • The Blue & Me seems like a cool thing to have – hopefully it is not too complicated for our regular folks to understand. Do not want to hear about crashes because of jokers fiddling with the system on the move.
  • The fold-able key is another cool feature.

Size:
Dimensions wise it is the 3rd longest hatchback currently on the market behind the Fusion and the Fabia. Legroom should be pretty decent.  It just about as wide as the Swift (narrower by 3mm). Wider hatch backs include the Fusion, I20, Swift, Jazz & Vista. So seating space for 5 inside should be adequate.

Looks:
I need to see it in person to really say how it looks. I like the looks of the car in most colors. Just felt the grille for the red or lighter colored cars should have been defaulted to black. The silver colored grille and fog lamp surrounds seems a bit out of place. The straight on front view is the best followed by the front 3 quarter view. I really do not care for its looks from the side or from the back where it just looks like every other hatchback and leaning towards plainness.  I fear there may be a huge blind spot up front at the A-pillar Рwill need to test drive to make sure.

Fiat Grande Punto
Fiat Grande Punto

Fiat has really played it safe and made the car available in the most common and popular colors. I think they are playing it too safe.  A few uncommon colors would have helped the car stand out. Their famous purple that was there on the Palio 1.6 and the brilliant yellow of the Palio S10 are notable omissions. I predict the hot color for the car will be the Exotica Red.

Price:
The top of the line petrol 1.4 Emotion Pack is the 5th costliest in the list with the Jazz, Fusion, Fabia and I20 being costlier.

The top of the line Diesel 1.3 Emotion Pack is the 3rd costliest after the Fabia and Fiesta.

In summary:
The real competition for the Grande Punto is the Hyundai I20 which is close to it in size and price and has a similar bag of feature laden trims that will entice buyers. There really will be bloodshed when the I20 diesel comes out. The Jazz looks very overpriced now and there is a lot of sentiment on the net and on Twitter mentioning cancelling Jazz bookings/thoughts to go for the Punto. I also predict to see some movement away from the Ritz to the GP as well.

Fiat Grande Punto
Fiat Grande Punto

I think the Grande Punto has been well priced and provides enough trim options for customers wanting a hatchback of that size. The design looks good, the price is right and the features are just right including the most sought after safety features of ABS & Airbags.  The Diesel trims are as well equipped as the Petrol trims. Yes the price is higher but thats still fine.

The key to its success in India will now depend on the sales and service experience. I just hope the Fiat/Tata alliance can somehow work together well to pull it off.

I want to test drive the Grande Punto just to get an idea of how it handles. Have registered for a TD and am now waiting for the call confirming the TD.  Will post updates after that.

Ending Crib:
I was cribbing while waiting for the Ritz launch, I held my tongue during the Jazz launch since I had a feeling we would have a huge let down and then finally the Grande Punto launch was no different. The manufacturers of all these three vehicles seem to think that their online presence can be ignored and all that matters is the big press conference where they call journos from the big mainstream media like print and TV and for the heck of it some of the major online websites. I think they need to carefully coordinate the launch¬† at the press conference and at the online presence to happen simultaneously or within¬† a matter of minutes – or hell kick it off during the press conference and show off their website as well. In the past 3 launches the online sites were updated only several hours past the official unveiling and till then had almost useless information with no time mentioned for the release of useful info. Its not like they are building the website after the official launch. The product has been ready for years, features and engines decided for India, website content is ready for weeks if not months, the pricing has been planned well in advance – all that is pending is to push a button which is the equivalent of “publish” to make all the data available to the thousands like myself who were sitting in office on their day jobs checking the official Indian website of the Fiat Grande Punto ¬†www.fiatpunto.in at every free moment for details and also hoplessly checking the Fiat India website as well¬†. After my initial enthu on noticing Fiat has a blog called Fiat For You– which was not being updated after June 17th morning a lot of my enthu went away.

"Be Bold"
"Be Bold" - saw this page all day !

I finally stopped checking the site after coming home and still checking till around 8.00 PM.  Had dinner and came back to check it and finally saw that the details are showing up hours later. The blog was also updated aroudn the same time.

Are you looking for a Diesel Hatchback ?

If you are looking for a Diesel Hatchback and need an easy reference comparison sheet for all the new vehicle models available in India – you have come to the right post. If you have reached here in error and Petrol Hatchbacks are what you want take a look at Petrol Super Hatchbacks Comparison.

The vehicles I have compiled the technical specifications and key features for include the Ford Fusion Plus TDCi, Skoda Fabia TDI Elegance, Hyundai Getz Prime CDRI GVS, Maruti Suzuki Swift VDI ABS, Maruti Suzuki Ritz VDI ABS, Tata Indica Vista Aura Quadrajet, Fiat Palio Stile Multijet SDX and the long running Tata Indica V2 DLS. The maximum price of the vehicles I have listed is under 9 Lakhs (on road). Frankly – if you are spending more than 6.5 lakhs for a hatchback – you better have some really good reasons not to go in for a sedan.

Indian Diesel Hatchback Trivia:
Shortest:Tata Indica V2 DLS
Longest Hatchback & Longest Wheel Base: Ford Fusion Plus
Widest: Ford Fusion Plus
Largest Fuel Tank:Fiat Palio Stile
Tallest:Maruti Suzuki Ritz VDI
Most Fuel Efficient:Maruti Suzuki Ritz VDI/ Runner Up: Maruti Suzuki Swift VDI
Most Powerful Engine, Highest Top Speed and Fastest in 0-100 time:Hyundai Getz Prime CRDI
Smallest Turning Radius:Maruti Suzuki Swift & Ritz
Lightest Weight:Tata Indica V2

**Best Ground Clearance: Ford Fusion Plus (The number needs to be checked РI got it from the Ford website Рbut it puts offroaders to shame)

Here is the data sheet: Diesel Hatchbacks Comparison to help you choose the car for you. If you need help deciding or have questions please feel free to ask through the comments or through the contact form.

PS: Please let me know if you have any additional data that can be added to the sheet to improve it.

Updated: June 18th to add details of the Fiat Grande Punto to the comparison.

I20’s Jazz-Fusion Getz Fabialous & U/VA’s Swift move to Ritzy Vistas!

After the Honda Jazz release on June 10th, I updated my Super Hatch (Petrol) Comparison chart. I will do a Diesel sheet soon.

While doing the updates I realized if the Jazz can touch 8 lakhs+ on road and still be in the sheet – then it was inexcusable on my part to omit the Ford Fusion which I had earlier left out because I was wanting to keep the list under 7 lakhs. It is a bit of a misfit since it has a 1.6L engine while the others are 1.3L at most.

Here is the data sheet for you to draw your own conclusions: Super Hatch Comparison Chart.

My Thoughts: Overall the Hyundai I20 seems to be spacious and feature loaded at a decent price when compared to the Fabia and the Jazz. It tops in safety features as well. Compared to the Jazz, now even the Fabia seems like a value for money car !

PS: Hope the post title made some sense :-).  Have a Happy Weekend !

Which car is better – the Ritz or the Swift ?

I test drove the Maruti Suzuki Ritz ZXI (Petrol) last weekend.  I am comparing it to the Swift as I think customers will find it tough to decide between these two cars from Maruti. 
 
Exteriors:

  • I like the front and the front 3 quarter view. Looks like a mature grown up ¬†Swift !
  • To get used to the rear I may have to start drinking something stronger than non-alcoholic beverages and quite a bit of it as well till my vision blurs. ¬†The rear doesn’t look too bad when the car has wider tires (like on the ZXI) and also when it is on the move. When stopped and up close it does look a oddish¬†nice¬†kind of ¬†strange.
  • The side view is interesting till the C pillar – then almost like the designers ran out of paper/screen space while making the drawing they stopped with a vertical line and ended the rear !
  • You will tire of hearing about the “boomerang” shaped tail lights from the dealer sales person very quickly. You would wish you had a real boomerang to fling at the sales guy.¬†The tail lamps are pulled inwards and a strange window lineof the side windows is seen when viewed from the full straight rear position.
  • The exterior door handles, ORVMS are the same/very similar as the Swift. ¬†Rear bumper fog lamp looks similar.
  • The bonnet seems higher than the Swift. Good for gently tapping errant pedestrians and accounts for better pedestrian safety for sure.

Here is a side by side comparison of the Swift (my own car) and the Ritz exteriors.
 
Interiors:

  • The seating position is a bit higher than in the Swift and seats feel the same. Almost like sitting on a cushion and driving the Swift.
  • The front quarter glass was a nice touch and helps a bit with visibility up front but there is still a huge blind spot at the A-pillar. Otherwise front visibility is good.
  • Visibility from the back will take some getting used to as the rear glass seems a bit small.
  • Rear wash/wipe & defogger only on the ZXI (just like the Swift).
  • The space saved by moving the gear lever in front isn’t used for anything.
  • The outside rear view mirrors are well placed, right sized and useful.
  • Lot of the interior is borrowed/shared with the Swift but still some cost cutting seems to have been there. Indicator/Wiper stalks, steering wheel, door locks & power window switches are all the same. Ashtray is the same. Gear lever knob is almost the same. Interior roof light seems the same.
  • The open glove box in addition to the closed one on the ZXI with the airbags is very useful – something the Swift ZXI doesn’t have and wastes space because of the airbags. The coin holder and storage space on the top of the dashboard is also good. Glove box seems similar in size to the Swift.
  • The front door pockets have storage space for bottles. There is only one central console mounted cup holder.
  • The steering mounted stereo controls are good but a bit annoying till u get used to them since they are in the spot the horn is on my car. Instead of honking I found myself increasing the stereo volume or muting the stereo without wanting to. The buttons seem a bit delicate and fiddly. More video game like than car like.
  • The increased head room allows 3 people to sit a lot more comfortably at the back than in a Swift. Legroom in the back was more than adequate. Feels more spacious than the Swift.
  • Luggage space was almost the same as the swift. If you want to carry a lot of luggage you should look at other vehicles possibly sedans. The 60:40 split is possibly the only saving grace of this car – I really wish the Swift had this.
  • The two tone dashboard was of a slightly vague light blue-grey color. I didn’t care for it too much. Matching colors to the exterior would have made sense but someone at Suzuki likes that weird color of blue.
  • The front under seat storage is a joke. Very small and without a lock. A newspaper and a magazine may just fit into it. If it were metal it could have been used to bake brownies – it was shaped like that.
  • Air conditioning seemed just about adequate (maybe the larger glass areas and lack of tints on the Demo car and the hot summer sun was a factor). I may have been spoilt by driving around with climate control and dark tinted small windows in the Swift. Blower fan gets noisy at “3” position. The side vents close fully and are a design different from the Swift. ¬†The climate control is the only key feature missing on the Ritz that the Swift has.

 

Drive & Handling:

  • It took some time to get used to the gear shifter because it is positioned almost a half a foot ahead of the gear shifter in the Swift/most cars. The gear shifter felt really good and the shifts were very precise – even better than the Swift. For people with multiple cars this gear shift will be a difficult to get used to, especially when you have to switch cars daily.¬†On the move the car is very silent and the engine barely lets you know it is on and running and at idle it was very silent. It did make some minimal noise when pushed but for it to move you have to push it past 3000 RPM. The older Swift engine would be screaming a nice song at 3K RPM.
  • Clutch, brake & accelerator pedals are the same as the Swift. Clutch is light and easy to use.
  • First gear seemed ok enough but the 2nd gear seemed a bit lethargic and the 3rd gear seemed pretty decent. I barely managed to get to 4th before I had to shift down because of traffic. By then the TD was over and we were back at the dealership.
  • The separate tachometer was a bit distracting in my view. Maybe since I am used to a tachometer next to the speedometer.
  • The ride was smooth and handled rough patches of road without too much noise and without losing balance. It didn’t feel top heavy like the Wagon-R does when taking turns at speed. The wider stance has to be thanked for it.
  • Visibility out front is very good and maneuvering the car in traffic is easy. Of course it is not an 800 but easy enough to drive.

 

Dealership/OEM Updates:

There seems to be sufficient interest in the car at the dealership and there was a steady stream of people coming to do test drives. Was almost knocked down by an 80 year old man and his wife who were rushing to TD the Ritz. This couple was doing the TD after finalizing the deal for buying the car !!!!! The people coming to TD the Ritz seem to primarily be ones who are married and have a family.

The dealer also mentioned that Maruti is forecasting long delays on all other vehicles other than the A-Star, Ritz and SX4 to make sure the sales of these continues. They are also trying as much as possible to not take bookings of any vehicle other than the above mentioned 3 cars. Even test drives of other vehicles are not being done ! I think this may backfire and cause people to defect to Hyundai , Tata and other manufacturers. Need to wait and see how well the Ritz is received and also if Hyundai and Tata sales go up because of Maruti.

Which one is better ?
There is no binary answer to this question. The Ritz is better than the Swift because of its fuel efficient, lighter, newer engine, interior space, features. The Swift is better than the Ritz for its looks, sporty responsive drive, slightly better trim level and features. Both seem to have their good features.

  • If you want a new car that does everything well, has seating space for 5 ¬†and will offend no one – take the Ritz.
  • If you have dreams of¬†up-sized/wide alloys rims,¬†low profile tires, spoilers, body kits, vinyl stickering and sports tuning then go for the Swift.

Test drive both and then just flip a coin and choose whichever one. You win with either of the two !  

 
PS: Thanks to Senthil for the photos !