In my childhood days (early 80’s) I used to stare at every car that passes through. In those days, we have only ambassadors & fiats. I used to check whether it is mark1 or 2 or 3 or 4 or the cute fiat. I found satisfaction in that and feel like owning them! I still have vague memories of those days getting into ambassador car. I was thrilled with the “luxury” cabin and the agarbati smell I could feel from my very short trips. Then when my father went abroad, I got couple of opportunities to travel long journeys (100+ km) in ambassador mark 4 car from my house to airport & vice versa. I won’t sleep & enjoy the journey through out and was passionate to become a driver one day by seeing the skills of our driver. I was jealous of him!
Years passed. When I was in 10th STD (1989), my uncle (mother’s younger brother - he was also abroad) came to our house and told my mother that he became a car “mothalali” (owner). I was thrilled and very happy that I could get into his car whenever I visit his house. But whenever I visit his house, car might have gone for a trip and I couldn’t get the chance!
In 1993, when I was 19 years old, I could convince my father and got my two wheeler license. Still I need to wait for another 1 year to get my four wheeler license. I studied my driving in trekker & ambassador car (by that time it started using the latest nova engine). I also got the “badge” to drive the taxi cars. Trekker
In 1996, my father bought a second-hand ambassador white car which was just less than a year old. I started driving that to nearby places and even went for couple of short trips when our driver was not available. But I couldn’t drive this car for long since it was with us only for few months. Ambassador
I waited again till 2002 to get my hands on next wheels, M800, of my father-in-law. This was my first light new generation steering wheels experience and it was cute. I loved the new experience. My first car:
In 2005, I got promoted at work and that enabled me to buy a company leased car. I did some homework and found that it helped me in saving tax if I go with this option. Also it was difficult to travel with our small child in bike in Bangalore (where we stay) traffic. After convincing my parents, I went ahead and bought my first car M800 in September 2005. I had taken care of my car like our child and even today I have this car in my native place with 35K km in odo. It is still running fine as new My second car:
We relocated to California, US in mid of 2006 due my job assignment and we were there till mid of 2008. During this time we bought a second hand 1994 model Toyota Camry. I was really amazed on the features for such an old car (ABS
, Airbags, still looks new interior & exterior etc). This car had completely made me feel what Toyota is and their quality. I couldn’t still believe that I own a Toyota car which once was way beyond my imagination (In India at that time Toyota was not affordable to common man like me). It was really hard to sell this car when I was coming back to India, if I could have a chance and a trouble free process, I could have bring this to India
. And the beauty was when I sold this car; I just lost 300 dollars from the price I bought!
[ Started thinking of third car:
As I mentioned above, I was back in Bangalore by mid of 2008 and my father came with our M800 to Bangalore which I kept in my native place for 2 years. My father used to start the car once in a while during my absence and it was still in perfect condition. That is Maruti!
After feeling the taste of bigger car, Toyota, safety features etc I was having somewhere down in my heart to buy a bigger car. But when I think about Bangalore traffic, our apartment parking space and additional expenses takes my mind away from that.
Year 2011 again made to think of buying a safer car especially when I drive in highways. I decided this time to go ahead with the purchase and there were lot of reasons for that as well. In 2010 Toyota introduced its first common man’s budget car Etios Petrol which started at a price of 5 lakhs! Getting serious research on next car:
The main contenders were Maruti Dzire, Tata Manza & Toyota Etios and all petrol. I was not having 2 times to think on whether my next car should be Petrol or Diesel. Following were the key reasons.
- My monthly running will be < 1K km.
- Not convinced with the minimum l lakh price difference with equivalent petrol car
- Planning to keep for next 10 years, if possible
- Possibility of Govt. de-regularization on petrol/diesel prices
- If petrol price shoots up, can park the car in garage and try alternate transportation.
Following were the main things that I should have in my next car. If I am not getting them in my next car then I can continue with my M800.
Rejecting Maruti Dzire:
- It should be a safer car
- It should be a bigger car
- It should have space inside – front, rear & dicky.
- I should visit the service station only for regular services
- It should reach in my budget (7 lakh max) & value for money. I should have to be convinced for the price I pay (I have this strategy for all the products I buy).
I was more inclined towards Maruti Dzire because of their excellent service, availability of service/repair stations in every corner of this country, cheap service bills, more vehicles (easy to get parts), good mileage and already have a maruti (M800). But when I visited their showroom for enquiry, it put me off from going further with them. They were not even ready to discuss on Dzire, remember they were hot seller! I dropped the Dzire option without even a test drive due to the following reasons.
Rejecting Tata Manza:
- Attitude of the sale rep at Maruti showroom against a Dzire customer (They might be a hot seller today but tomorrow when a right competition comes, they will run behind customers to sell it. In 2013 today, they have one! Honda Amaze – watch out)
- Didn’t liked the shape of the vehicle especially back side (it is my personal opinion and subjective). It remembers me of our old Ambassador car.
- Inside space is not that great compared to other main contenders.
I liked Tata Manza especially the interior. It is spacious, luxurious interior, have safety features, good mileage and in my budget. But I dropped the Manza option as well without even a test drive due to the following reasons.
- Tata vehicles quality issue – read lots of horrible news in web.
- The service department was also not able to provide a quality service. This is what I read from internet portals.
- Finally I didn’t like the shape of this vehicle. It looks like a boat. (it is my personal opinion and subjective)
I was following this even before the launch and eagerly waiting. When they launch this, it was a big news and first budget car for the mass. A Toyota sedan for 5 lakhs! I couldn’t believe it and I was thrilled. I read the review by GTO on this which was a bulletproof reliability for me to decide to go with this car. I have bought this car without even a test drive! I could feel the car while reading his review. Thanks GTO. You are amazing.
Before buying, I requested our dealer to bring the test car to our apartment and did a thorough check inside & out. I saw what I am going to get from Etios before itself.
The main reasons why I went in favor of Toyota Etios
- Complete reliability on the “heart” of car – The Toyota Engine
- Toyota’s lasting quality in all spare parts
- Superb driving
- Lots of space inside & the biggest 595 liter trunk! I don’t know which other Sedan has such a big trunk?
- A car with 5 people can easily travel
- Ok design – both interior & exterior. Not ugly & not posh. It is simple like me
- I was getting all safety features in my budget especially ABS & Airbags
- Cheaper service & parts
- Toyota did lots of research & testing for this car in Indian conditions before launch
What I don’t like.
- No rubber beading outside the door. This is one big blunder Toyota did! Even in the 2013 upgraded version they have not added this with lots of complaints from customer. This will allow getting lots of dust inside the door but it won’t allow dust/water inside the car.
Other things (not that significant) which I didn’t like:
What about other issues people reports?
- Cheap paper type material used in side walls of trunk.
- No engine cover under the car – This doesn’t exist in Vento as well!
- Toyota service stations are still not equipped like Maruti to handle the mass crowd
Interior plastic quality – I couldn’t find any issue with the plastic quality. I think they might be expecting a posh soft plastic. But I was ok with this since it is a 5 lakh sedan. I cannot expect a costlier posh plastic for this price when I am getting the most wanted other things in a car at this price. Else I need to compromise on those things which I really needed in my next car, which I was not ready for!
Center Dash – It didn’t make a difference to me at all. When I was in US, steering was in left! Initially that made me little odd but then later I got used to it. But here this doesn’t impact my driving style or anything else. I was driving as usual. Also I find an advantage as person who sits next to me and behind can see the speedometer!
Single wiper – It does the job of what 2 wipers do. Even in heavy rains, I didn’t find any difficulty. Then why should I worry. Which variant?
As I mentioned earlier, I need to have safety features hence I decided to go with Etios G SP version. This has the ABS
& Airbags but I was missing the rear defogger. It is available in the next higher version but it is 50k costlier. This was around 6 lakhs ex-showroom price and on the road it will be around 7.25 lakhs. I was almost decided to go with this. Then I was discussing with my friend who is an expert in cars. I was telling him that I am not getting rear defogger. Then he was telling me to go for the next variant since I will get a higher tire (G SP – 175/65 R14; V - 185/60 R15), rear defogger (which I cannot get as an accessory as well), alloy wheels, tachometer, CD audio system, USB & Aux-in ready audio and couple of other minor things. Then I did a price comparison and the value I get from the additional 50 k; finally decided to go with Etios V version. I took insurance from outside and following is the cost breakup & free accessories I got after a hard bargain.
Ex-Show room price – 651838/-
Road tax – 101300/-
Reg. charges – 6000/-
1. USB & AUX –IN CONNECT CABLE -790/-
2. FABRIC TRUNK MAT - 510/-
3. 3M Sun Film – 5700/-
4. Mats & Mudflats – 1384/-
5. Side Visor – 1735/-
6. Hiker reverse parking sensor (4 sensors & screen) – 6284/-
7. UNDER BODY COATING – At a discount price of 3000/-
Added Car Seat Cover later – 8000/-
Total on the road price - 783580/-
Later I have also installed 2 Sony speakers (removed from M800) in the rear & removed the sun film. How is my Etios today after 2 years?
I have completed exactly 2 years with our Etios. We bought in July last week of 2011. I don’t have any regret in going with Etios. It drives effortlessly. It is smooth and tireless even after long drives (did multiple 600 km+ drive). It is reliable and takes you through any roads. The exterior paint & interior plastic are same as what I saw 2 years back. No change! I have clocked so far 10500 KM. Planning to keep this for another 8 years. Let me see. What I could have bought today if I was in market?
Ertiga Petrol! No two thoughts! It is same size of Etios, priced similar to Etios, can seat more passengers (help when guest comes) & Maruti Disclaimer: The trekker, ambassador, M800 pictures are taken from net. The view expressed here are my own