OK Friends, Here is my Bolero Ownership review, not sure if its as good as some of the others here but definitely an honest attempt.
Some background: Been driving since earlly/mid 90s, having driven a relative owned Maruti 800 occasionally, bought my first car a Honda Civic Automatic while staying/working in the US & drove/used it for a few years there before selling it & moving to India, the thought of loading that car into a container & getting it back here had crossed my mind, but people advised me seriously against it due to the left hand drive & other issues like maintaining an automatic etc. So dropped that idea. After moving to India, noticed that the Indica V1 was selling like hot cakes inspite of the flaws it had along with another car the Santro which were the only two cars selling in the hatchback segment if I remember correctly. By the time I decided to buy a car people advised me to be "in Rome like romans do" that is buy a Diesel car & enjoy the larger fuel subsidy & save money on driving costs, so did exactly that & bought the Indica V2 DLS(just below top end DLX) which had all basic stuff like power steering, AC etc, but no power windows. Petrol Indica did not exist at that time. Concorde Bangalore was the dealer who gave me a good deal at 3.9L onroad price with extended warranty & road tax was unbelievably low like 8-10% in 2002. As naive as I was back then I gave the vehicle religiously to ASCs for servicing for the first 3 years. After that I still continued with the ASCs although I reduced the frequency to once a year or something like that. Around 2007-8 I had some bad experience with ASC as well as outside garages. So maintained it myself from 2009-2013, these 4 years it was an interesting, helpful & quite a learning experience. Joined TAI
earlier this year to get some quick help on AC repair, but then was really impressed with the wealth of information on this website as well as with some of the knowledgeable folks contributing here.
Need for Upgrade: To be honest there wasn't one, I mean I did not feel the need to upgrade but there was probably a need for a change because I had used the Indica V2 for almost 12 years which served me really loyally & taken me to many distant places like Kanyakumari & Rameswaram island etc, clocked about a lakh kms which is not a lot, but it had started having problems, had few breakdowns, some issues seemed very serious major ones & others were minor but both took time & effort to fix. After a recent tyre damage while driving, changed all 4 tyres but decided to change the car as well very soon.
There was one thing which was clear in my mind, I did not want to spend more than 8-9 lakhs on my second car (in India), although I could have gone upto 12 lakhs maybe & I am also aware that there is hardly any upper limit on how much one can spend on a car these days in India, especially on safety features which is considered as money well spent & I do agree. Anyways apart from the constraint I had set for the price (which over the years I have begun to believe is a good thing to have for most things you buy in that it pushes you to be more efficient & end up making better choices most of the times), I was also not going to spend over twice the amount I spent on my first car the hatchback V2 & again settle for a vehicle which would again carry the same 5 passengers, irrespective of whatever else the new car offered. So it definitely had to have the ability to accommodate some more stuff and/or persons(flexibility) because we do have the need on many occasions for 7 people to travel together.
Other options considered:
1. Tata Nano: Yes as unbelievable as it sounds I really liked this car, although I did have a budget for a bigger car, I believe that the job of a car is to take a person or people from A to B comfortably which this car seemed to do well, be fuel efficient, easy to maintain & last long. It had all, however we on many occasions do have the need to travel together long distances with extended family, grandparents (of kids) & other relatives on trips etc which was definitely not possible with this car.
2. Mahindra Quanto: Took a quick test drive, however did not like it so much, there was some blind spot problem with the pillars if I remember right. Driving position was uncomfortable. The engine seemed to grunt & It almost felt like driving a very large hatchback. Did not like the tiny wheels or the shape of the car very much either. BTW
news(unconfirmed) is that this will be discontinued after S101 is launched.
3. Duster & Ecosport: Both were looked at quickly however I was never so serious about either of these as these did not seem VFM
to me, after hearing that Duster had only one dealer & service center in Bengaluru I decided not to waste my time even on test drive. Both are pretty much 5-seaters so it sort of limits the number of people it can ferry. I did test drive the ES, nothing that impressed me too much,dropped it especially due to the wait period(could not wait), the mad craze & the attitude the sellers were throwing around. Frankly these two were the options easiest to scratch off the list.
4. Tata Indigo Manza was another very obvious option we considered even before all the other cars, it was a nice spacious sedan to "upgrade to" from the V2 with all the additional "sophistication & luxury" which was sort of missing in the early V2 days. Of course it had the trunk space too. We would have probably finalized this option & bought this long back if I had kept it straight & simple. but I guess I did not do that.
5. Somewhere in the last 30 days or so before finally booking the new car, the Sumo Grande somehow got onto our options list, simply because of its appearance & family thought its curved edges made it look a bit more futuristic & not as "bland" as an entry level UV. After looking at the features of Grande a bit & the price range which is just a little lower than the scorpio, we decided to drop it.
Mahindra Bolero ZLX & reasons to choose this UV.
1. Obviously in addition to everything else the big plus with this vehicle is the ability to carry two more passengers in case there is such a need. (compared to my other options)
2. Ground clearance better than sedans & hatchbacks which is a definite plus in Indian driving conditions.
3. Driving ease & handling of this UV is just very good & comfortable for me. From the time I took the first test drive I was at ease with it & it was almost like driving my Indica, hardly any added effort.
4. Lower NVH levels with the glasses rolled up. This too was a major concern & factor for me. The V2 in the last few years had become quite noisy.
5. All the new tech like microhybrid, VMS etc was added assurance that M&M had been changing & improving/innovating on the product for good! More fuel efficient & safety alerts etc.
6. Looks of the car as I have mentioned earlier I liked a lot, especially since its shape is mostly simple straight lines & not to bulgy & bulky like the other SUVs. There is not much fuss.
7. ZLX comes with pretty much all the bells & whistles, kenwood CD plus radio with speakers & remote, back windshield wash & wiper, central remote locking, power windows. Dealer gave me mud-flaps, 5 rubber floormats, perfume & idol as free accessories. Have not added anything extra, no fog lamps might add later, no crash/bull bars guard. No chrome anywhere. Standard tyres & wheels, got CEAT tyres. I like to keep it simple!
8. Dealer also threw in Under chassis coating & body teflon coating free to avoid minor scratches.
Dealer & Delivery: I found them just about okay because they delayed the delivery by a week after full payment, ended up giving them a bit of heat, ended up talking to the OEM
directly. Did a quick PDI myself before the vehicle was sent to registration. Decoded VIN to find out month & other details. But still missed one or two very small marks inside the car, one inside the backdoor circled by me in photo. But otherwise pretty decent experience.
Family found the vehicle to be comfortable during the test drives & were fine with the choice & as I was the one who would be driving it mostly, kids like it a lot as well & believe it or not have been riding mostly in the last jumpseat section from the day we got the vehicle home.
Test drive pictures at http://www.theautomotiveindia.com/forums/indian-auto-news/5907-battle-entry-level-uvs-sumo-gold-vs-bolero-41.html#post276256
Reactions: Acquaintances, colleagues, friends etc few are initially bit surprised, a lot of them will seem to have discovered some new found respect for you, greet/smile at you a little more etc. This also applies to other people you deal with regularly like security & attendants at parking lots etc. One very close elderly family member asked if I would have bought a bus if some company sold me a good quality one at the same price & I said maybe I would if I needed one & had parking space. In short I have come to understand that in our country buying VFM
stuff does not paint a very pretty picture about you with most "elite-well-to-do" people, probably being a little wasteful does make you look a little better maybe. Anyways hardly matters.
Driving experience till now has been great. Mostly city driving. Just one short daytrip to Nandi Hills small hill station nearby Bangalore, the UV handled the steep uphill with ease unlike a smaller hatchback or sedan & managing the curves was also quite good.
Highways are good, still driving under/around 100kmph as advised by the SA
Apart from this the mileage seems good average around 15kms per litre & up 20kms per litre on highway, this is from what is displayed from the dashboard not the old style tank to tank which is yet to be done.
Coming to the dashboard information system, it shows a whole bunch of alerts like fluid levels etc, additionally combined with the VMS(Voice messaging system which is sort off a like a text to voice tech) actually speaks out the alerts like when you are driving without seatbelts or on reserve fuel etc.
The microhybrid tech also seems pretty good, with the engine shutting off after about 3 seconds of neutral & disengaging the clutch commonly done at traffic signals. Re-engaging the clutch starts the engine within a second. The sales folks explained to me how this is cheaper than actually cranking the engine, apparently only one of the cylinder is topped up & powered which is way cheaper than topping all 4 cylinders & powering all of those which happens during the regular cranking. Helps a lot during city driving & definitely beats the old style way of depending on human beings to doing the same stuff. Also there is a simple switch to toggle this feature on ON or OFF in case of highway driving if you don't need it. Only the top-end ZLX has this feature.
Standard warranty is just one year whereas other UVs is much more. Being the most selling UV, M&M probably thinks it can at least dictate this part & offer bare minimum warranty period. Still not decided on the extended warranty which is 12K for 3 years.
Side appearance (doors) looks quite ordinary design with or without the body graphics, but maybe they don't want to change it in case it affects the sales. I am fine with it but it might matter to others.
I had a feeling that the power steering was making some rubbing sound and also was not as fast as it should be to come back to straight ahead position, the first part was fixed within a couple of weeks of delivery by services center folks using some lubricant spray under the steering wheel. The second part I am told will get better over the months or will be addressed/tuned dring the first service.
Long distance trip is yet to happen so will add more info after that.
Some pictures below.