There was no need to buy a new car,still as luck would have it, had some different plans which were about to unfold.It all started with a small accident.Relax all, it was a minor one and nobody got hurt! Read on friends... The accident/incident story - Early July 2012
One fine day, my brother miscalculated the amount of speed he can carry into a steep corner and our little Figo got banged in the pavement. It had to be towed back to the house, as the petty Figo lost one of her legs (front axle and tier end rod of the front passenger tire have gone kaput ).
My dad and his brother thought it to be wise to get the car set right from the FNG which is located just behind our house.The owner there know us well, and then, getting it done from him instead of insurance, means saving on the "No claim bonus".It was a decision taken in haste, only to be repented later.
The car spent two weeks at the garage,as the parts to be sourced from Kashmere Gate were not available ( people from Delhi will understand that this is one of the biggest auto-spares market of the capital and our business happens to be located in the vicinity). This by default makes it the first place to source the spares.Finally,Figo got it's legs back and was on the road again doing the regular chores. The new life injected into the Figo was short-lived as it broke down one morning and the culprit was the axle which was not properly aligned and hence,the car just refused to move.It was time to revisit that "hasty decision".Damage has been done.A good Fordy let down by the incompetent local garage guys.
People at higher strata in my house now started contemplating as what to do. Somewhere in the back of their thoughts, they have started loosing confidence in the reliability of Figo ( after the last breakdown). p.s. :-
I saw it coming as I never felt comfortable getting the core mechanical/engine/suspension related jobs getting done from these people. They neither have the equipment/tools nor the expertise, these machines require.A learning from my experience. Never trust these local garages for critical tasks/components like these.They can ruin your ride completely.They are good for puncture repairs/tire change/rotation etc. only. Another angle of the same story - End of July 2012
Some backdrop :- We have a Ford Ikon too in our family, which is used sparingly. It is a 2004 model and hence one can easily assume that there is hardly any room left for claiming depreciation on it. I have compiled the long-term report of it here :- My Ford Ikon 1.6 NXT ZXi: Long Term Ownership Experience
Then,it was time to fill up advance taxes and calculate the depreciation benefits claimed on vehicles purchased under firm's name.As I said, our Ikon had little left in terms of tax benefits, a school of thought arose to sell it and get a new ride (good to save taxes) and get the Figo repaired from the authorised service center.This would mean coughing up another 25-30K after already spending 10-12K (at the local garage) and insurance can't be claimed on an already repaired car. The equation just didn't seem to make any sense after all the permutations.
When I came to know about this story doing the rounds in the house, my love for the old Fordy (Ikon) swelled, and I immediately embarked on the journey to save it.I argued that Ikon has around 65% life left in it and selling it won't fetch much monetarily.Whereas, if we need to sell one of the cars, Figo should be the one due to the ill-repair carried out on it and will fetch more, as it has done only 18K kms in 3 years (it was bought in May2010).It took few discussions with my dad and uncle to prove my argument valid and I was given the task to get quotes for Figo. Ford Figo (Sold with a heavy heart) :- August 2012
I placed an ad on few websites and soon got a ball-park figure of 2.2L - 2.5L. The numbers were not overwhelming due to the continuous hike in gas prices and tumbling economy.I fixed an appointment with a Mahindra first choice(MFC) dealer to inspect the vehicle and give a final price. His subordinate came, did some checks and ticked few marks in a sheet of paper he bought along, and then I looked at him to speak.
He said,"saab, gaadi ki condition badiya hai, thodi lagi hai aage se, thode bahut scratches hain...baaki theek hai".I gained some confidence and anticipated some words like 3L (I know it is day-dreaming).He finally broke his silence and uttered, "2.4L", nothing less nothing more. I talked with the owner of MFC and he was not ready to budge from the price quoted.I discussed this with home ministry and got half-hearted approvals, but they had no choice and even less time to ponder upon this more.We asked him to take the car as and when it's replacement arrives. p.s. :-
The day the MFC guy had to come for picking Figo up, I got a call from an individual who had come before and had driven Figo, but has not contacted afterwards. He offered 2.6L and would take delivery right away. I informed my dad about this call, but as the deal has been freezed with MFC, so no changing it now. Replacements Considered - Middle of August 2012
The thumb rule for changing cars in our family has been : "A sedan replaces a sedan and a hatch replaces a hatch". Requirements :-
1.) The biggest requirement this time was to get a hatch with good resale, as the decision makers at home (read as my dad and uncle) were particularly miffed at the ultra-low resale value of Fords.
2.) It has to be a city-friendly commuter rather than a highway-scorcher,as this is going to be used as a tool to commute from home to business and back home + similar city duties.
3.) Fuel efficiency was not much of a bother as the running is not much and, the places we traverse on are highly congested parts of Delhi.Nothing on four wheels can be "efficient" here!!
4.) So, the above points pretty much sums up,what we were looking for.Let me start talking about the actual contenders now :- Another Figo :-
Hmmm...yeah,what's wrong in getting another one, except for :
1.) Same driving experience, which frankly speaking is nothing great to talk about. Handling and suspension are not the culprit of this hatch, but the mediocre engine is, we felt it even so more, when it has to share the garage with the bigger sister (Ikon,that too, 1.6L ROCAM).
2.) Then, we could get the diesel one. Proven engine, highly efficient,enough power for city use and overall an established product.Not to mention the dynamics, which can really shame the Japanese engineers.Then again, it's resale might not be the best in the business (even in diesel form).
With above points being discussed, the thoughts of having another Figo were put to rest. Let's try something new or may be more like,coming back to basics... Volkswagen Polo/Skoda Fabia
I am a German engineering aficionado and admire the built quality and solidity of a product more than fancy radios and stuff alike.So, my personal favorite has to be either a Polo/Fabia.
Now, there are few Polo's/Vento's in the family and friends which translates into asking of their ownership experiences.Few consultations with them revealed two common grouse with both the cars as :
1.) Low ground clearance and even low placement of front bumper skirts and some under-body parts. One of dad's friend had his Polo's underbelly protection plate replaced twice (courtesy : broken and ill-maintained roads of Old Delhi).
2.) Lack of rear leg & shoulder room.I didn't buy this argument of them till I personally had a 20 minute ride sitting in the rear seat accompanied by 2 medium built adults. After the drive, I exclaimed, " Man this is cramped"!!
The above two anomalies(not in the vehicle exactly as some might be ok with these) closed the case for VW/Skoda. p.s. :-
Though till date and for the time to come, I remain mighty impressed with their ability of making well-engineered products.The way the door closes shut, gives one a feeling of serenity and security that others just don't match.Even my dad and his bro agreed to the craftsmanship that these German cars exude.