I am no car expert but I had benefited from many posts on this forum (and others) so I had decided to share my car experience as 'my bit' to the community. But getting pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard now) was no easy task, I realised.
After quite a bit of dilly-dallying here is it finally. I plan to stagger the posts in smaller chunks to tackle my rather overacting procrastination gene. Knowing me like I know one else, I don't promise much. The posts are going to be spurts and bursts at best. Background
I was looking to upgrade to a large car for my family. This upgrade was long due. My 9 year old Alto had become too small for the family, with 4 adults and 2 kids who were suddenly out of toddler-hood. My requirements
were quite simple.
3 rows of seats. No jump seats, I wanted proper seats for the third row.
Reasonable mileage. I had more or less decided on a diesel.
Comfortable ride. I expected at least 3-4 planned long rides (1500 plus both ways) in a year and a few unplanned ones. And even weekend camping trips but my excuse all this while had been that I couldn't carry all the gear and the people in my small car. Not that I had the gear. :-)
My budget was under 10 lakhs.
Easy and inexpensive maintenance hence didn't seriously consider the second hand option.
Airbags was the minimum expected safety feature.
Reasonable boot space.
Styling was not an initial consideration, was more focused on practical issues.
Last and not very important in the decision making process was the fact that I was planning to use the company car lease route to ownership.
Please note the above list didn't exist on paper or even listed or analysed in my mind, but were general thoughts before making the decision.
There were not many inputs from the family in the early days of the decision making process. I had been articulating the need for a new car for close to 3 years. They thought this was yet another bout of loud thinking that would be subdued eventually by my laziness. They knew from experience that I hadn't even gotten around to even test drive any of my favourites of the season. This time wouldn't be no different was the general consensus.
I decided to surprise them. The options
weren't many considering my budget.
Ertiga VDi and ZDi was the only option that fit neatly in my budget. Didn't really consider a Scorpio as I felt (personal opinion of a non expert) the middle seat
comfort and space were inadequate. Xylo, I felt was underwhelming at least in the looks department.
Besides all this I was used to the Maruti brand of cars and their service, It was easy to make a decision. Visit to the showroom(s), test drive
So one Sunday in late Nov 13, I gather the mildly surprised family to the Maruti Showroom (Bimal) on old Airport Road. After a brief wait, we are assigned an executive and he shows us the Ertiga (VDi). Want to see the ZDi, but they don't have one handy to show us. I don't ask for a test drive as I have driven a colleague's Ertiga and have traveled in all the seats. So we are in the process of making up our mind when my wife asks me if I have checked out other options as well. (Women and shopping!).
I don't want to admit I haven't. I rack my brains for a plausible answer. I just remember that KHT motors a Tata Motors showroom isn't very far away. So inform everyone of the next showroom visit that's on the (now created) list.
On the way to KHT motors, I get my wife to call them (thanks to Justdial), they inform us that they don't have Aria stocks and that Concorde Motors is the only Showroom in town, where Aria is available. We have nothing much to do, so we head to the Concorde Motors office near Dairy Circle. Concorde Motors, Dairy circle.
It seems like we are the only customers in the showroom. They show us the car but after a bit of discussion tell us that the Aria Executive is not available to give us more details. We are intrigued, but soldier on. Our request for a test drive is eventually organised.
Now I have seen a few Aria's on the road, but this is the first time I have actually 'seen' one. It seems massive. Suddenly, the Ertiga looks like small car! My wife is not sure if she would be able to drive this beast. But I jump in to take advantage of the "free test drive". After all when would I get another chance to drive an Aria. We ask for a the entry level Aria, which is the Pure LX. But they don't have the Pure LX available for the test drive so we settle for the next higher model available which is the Aria Pleasure. Test drive and first impressions
The driver seat is commanding. I notice right away that the NVH levels are impressive for a diesel car, when compared to an Innova and even Ertiga. In-spite of its size, it handles quite well. I am able to take U-turns that I thought a big car would struggle to. It seems to have enough power (relatively). I am impressed but sadly not a practical buy. It is more expensive, where will you park this monster, and it gives the powerful message that you have arrived, which I was not comfortable with. I reluctantly decide, this is not for me and thank the stand-in executive. The executive gently informs me of discounts available. I refuse to hear him out, even with discounts it is still beyond my budget and my other considerations.
I make the slow trip back home in my humble Alto. On the way all of us agree that the Aria is not for us right now, maybe we can consider it we go for the next one, whenever that could be. Chapter closed. Research
I have an unusually sleepless night. Wake up early and start googling, 'Aria'. Reviews are not very sympathetic, but I find a small band of Aria enthusiasts here and there. Don't know why but end up sending an enquiry on the Tata Motors website. I forget all about it as the day begins and work starts.
Sometime in the middle of the day, a Tata motors executive calls me and informs me that there is a discount amounting to Rs 85,000/- available. I do a quick math, this make it around 60,000 more costly than the Ertiga ZDi. I am hooked.
More research. More sleepless nights.
People in forums are talking about discounts of a 'few lakhs' on the higher end models. I try my poor negotiating skills on the Concorde motors executive. He is almost dismissive. I embark on a waiting game to see who blinks first. No calls from Tata motors. I call other cities to see if I can get better deals. No go. I give in. I call Concorde Motors and set up an appointment to see the Aria Pure LX model on the following weekend. Pre-PDI
I visit the Concorde motors stockyard in Sarjapur. I see a gleaming white Aria amongst dusty collection of other Tata cars. I take out my newly downloaded and printed checklist and begin. Spend an hour or so looking for one point to say no or negotiate for more. My wife and the executive are amused to see me checking unusual places. I request for a test drive of this car. I am refused flatly. Only specially designated cars for test drive. After feel dejected at first, but later thought this was a plus point.
The car has been manufactured in August 2013, other than that I find no other reason. I give up and promise to get back in the next few days. Spend more time talking to people and in forums including TAI
and finally I take the big step and book the Tata Aria Pure LX White. Booking
I wanted the delivery in December itself. Not bothered about the year end resale value argument as I believe in owning cars for more than 5-6 years. They are ready to deliver the vehicle in a weeks time provided it is white but it takes a week extra to sort out the Company lease plan process. Delivery
Take delivery of the Aria on 18th December. Spend 3 hours doing my second round of PDI and completing the formalities. Decide to take the Gold Plan AMC (4 years and 40,000) km. Add a basic music system. (Pure LX doesn't come withe a music system or Airbags, and many other fancy features the higher end Aria comes with).
Next --> Pics and initial ownership experience