The start of a journey…
KA 03 MV xxxx : 2015 Toyota Fortuner 4WD MT finally inducted in to my family
It all started back in 2009. I was on my way to my friend's place and I had to stop for a multi-axle car carrying truck to turn in to a toyota stock yard. Not one but three trucks tailing behind. After a couple of hours was on my way back in the same narrow road, the unloaded trucks made me wait again making an exit out of the stock yard. The road was clear soon for me to make underway but I couldn't move. something was blocking... My brains shut down but my eyes were wide open looking at the lined up beast on the other side of the steel-wired fence. Soon my ears started functioning and I could hear multiple honking from the impatient minds behind the wheel. I gave way and parked my Panther Black Honda City in safe and ventured in to the compound as the gate was still left open for one last truck to exit. The watchman came running, I knew I ll have to adopt the old indian way to wander around in the property... (yes! you guessed it right, Had to lie) I told him I m buying the car pointing towards the beast. I knew an SUV is launched in the Toyota stable but didn't exactly remember the name. He asked me not to touch the cars and requested me to leave after a quick look around. “The butch look of the beast in all angles and dimensions challenged Safari, Scorpio for starter”, is all I could think of at that moment.
The thought of owning a fortuner never occurred to me at that time, was just an admiration and awe for the next few years. In the following years I became a religious follower of autocarindia.com and zigwheels.com.
Well, in May 2012… my childhood friend from Chennai bought an Innova G (gold mica metallic). I jumped in to the driver’s seat, completed the Chennai-Bangalore stretch in 5 hours and was happy with the sedan like comfort and handling. My friend tried to convince me in to buying the Innova (same model/colour) and even the same fancy registration number! I missed something in Innova and was sure its not my car. He made an online request for Innova - TD in Bangalore and Nandi Toyota was prompt in sending a car. But I had to convince myself not to make a move without a mind and heart sync. And there goes the moment when I almost bought the Legend of indian MUV.
All this while when I was keeping my priorities on the table, my wife tapped on my shoulders and quietly made me think in a totally different prospective.
My TN 72 registered Honda city had done 65K at that time and was going good. My wife drives the car with kids in the back seat to Malls when I m busy. She pointed out two things,
1) More than few times she has had close shave with cars tailing behind in the inclined ramps from the parking basements.(she is not very good with hill climbing)
2) TN registered vehicle is loved by the traffic cops in Bangalore city to fill up their daily quota.!
The home ministry’s feedback and demands can’t be ignored at all for many known reasons!
So walked in to Whitefield Honda for a TD on CRV 2.4 A/T trying to bridge all the requirements in hand.
- I, needed a powerful and Japanese SUV/MUV
- My wife, needed an Automatic Transmition
- KA registration a priority.
Again the red flag was raised my HM. But I liked the idea though. Give away the Honda city, and buy two cars instead of one.
1) A small automatic transmission hatchback exclusively for city drive.
2) Any SUV of my choice.
Former to be bought right away and the later (my dream!) depending on the available funds in the coming months.
Bought a Brio V AT within a week as desired by my missus. (The Love-omatic experience can be discussed as a separate ownership review later)
The Fortuner slowly drifted off my mind in the coming months and the budget to reach for a 4WD MT looked like a bit stretched up at that time. Few months later I parted ways with the Honda City after my sister wanted it(she knows the amount of love and money I poured in on the City)
I started feeling the pinch living with the tiny hatch(the cabin is of no way an issue in the space department). The boot space ? we all know it!
So started the second car hunt again. And this time I was sure it’s the fortuner. I walked in to Skoda showroom(hosur road) to enquire about the New Yeti. The sales guy replied in 1 sentence “6-8 months waiting period”. And I responded in 2 words “Thank you” and walked away from the showroom really quickly.
My son (8 yrs old / also a motor craze) laid down his demands while driving away from the skoda showroom, "3 rows with last row front facing seats". This eased my search criteria and narrowed it down to choose between Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Hyundai Santa Fe. I had to brush away the Mitsubishi brand for the ASS
. Santa Fe is a short wheel base version in indian market which basically is a 5 seater like CRV. Its really clever how the company managed to squeeze in the 3rd row seats. And the CBU route did not help with the price tag of almost 3 lakhs more OTR price for Bangalore when compared with the fortuner.
Hence the Big decision making saga came to an end even before the TD ! Fortuner it is!!!
Walked in to Nandi Toyota (Hosur road) together with my wife and kids enroute to my friend’s place in electronic city. I had the cheque book in hand to book the vehicle. My wife wished to see the interiors on a fortuner 4WD MT. The Sales Executive politely asked if he can bring the vehicle for a test drive at home as the vehicle wont be available for TD for another hour. I gave him my number and asked him to call me when he is ready with the TD vehicle. 1 hr later he calls me while I was still in my friend’s place and soon was heading my way. We had a perfect TD in the Nice ring road (no offroad drives), my friend’s family came along and so all the seats came in handy. Invited the SE for a cuppa in to my friend’s house. He started explaining the pros of buying the fortuner and cons of even looking the direction of X1 and Q3 !! This topic was brought in by him to discourage me to look in the direction of German Big B’s. Before he finished his sentence, I was in a rush to go places and pulled out the cheque book for booking a 4WD MT (metallic silver). This was in the 1st week of November 2014. He was happy with the way things are heading. He called up his SM for stock check on this particular model / colour. After the call, he started of in a different tune. He said the colour choice I made is not a good one for the mighty fortuner. “Pearl white is the colour for your personality sir” !! I stood my ground and asked him to give me estimated time of delivery. He called me the next morning and said TKM stopped production on fortuner since 1st November. So my only option is pearl white (3 in stock). My other option is to wait till 26th Jan 2015. He also informed me about a possible marginal increase in price along with a possible mild facelift (inside and out).
And so the wait started…..
In the mean time I was busy researching online regards to possible upgrades from different forums and fortuner clubs in African and Australian market. In the process ended up importing few genuine accessories from Thailand via ebay.
To name a few,
1) Kevlar gear knobs (for both gear rods)
2) Fridge (Toyota approved)
3) Bonnet scoop chrome
4) Lexus style tail lamps
5) Fender mirror
6) Headlamp chrome (half)
7) Soft leather Toyota emblem key chain
I don’t have pictures of all these out of the box before fitment. But I ll post pictures all of it after fitment on the car.
Two developments related to the 2015 fortuner echoed in my ears.
- price increase also due to cancellation of subsidy. 29.5 L spiked to 31.9 L OTR price in Bangalore
- Facelift inside and out, though minimal, the step is in the right direction.
Now time for few photos
Prado type front grill comes at Rs.12k from the dealer.
Lexus style tail lamps imported from Thailand Rs.19k. Perfect fit.
At night the tail lamps look awesome. this is with parking lamps ON. When the break light comes ON the crispy brightness just takes your breath away. Once you overtake a vehicle, the driver would tail my Primo for ever glued to this light work.
Some interior photos - All black
Fast forward to the D day….
As expected, the SE calls me with the hot news that my vehicle has arrived and I can make arrangements for the remaining amount to bring the sale before the month end to achieve target.
Oh I forgot to mention… I was going to call him “Primo” ( google it ! )
A visit to the stockyard with my SE was not particularly how I had imagined. The car was covered in dust and was in the shower for my inspection. Alloy wheel hubs were missing, but later found it inside the front center arm rest storage box. Clicked a pic of the VIN number sticker from the windshield and chassis number from inside the rear right wheel arch. First impression when I opened the driver’s side door was “WOW”. The black leather seats stitched with white nylon thread looks and feel premium and in par with the German makers.
The bank was not in a hurry to close the deal for the same month. And so my Primo had to sleep in the stockyard for a week.
I was asked to come at 5pm on the D-day. I was in the showroom by 3 ! !
Not because I was all excited but due to my previous experience from Sundaram Honda, Coimbatore. Boot lid was repainted by the dealer (shoddy job at that), delivery time past 6pm just when it was turning dark. I found out after a couple of days when my friend pointed to me about the difference in finish and quality of the paint job. This can be discussed in detail on another Thread??
In-showroom representative for 3M brand introduced himself in front of my SE. He briefed me about his products.
- Rs16k for Teflon coating and under chassis rubber coating with 5 years guarantee.
- Rs25k !!! for Sunfilm 3M CR 70
Now, do you think Toyota (or for any manufacturer for that matter) gives you a car with a paint job which wont last for 5 years and 3M product will help the toyota quality? This might make sense 20 years back when Amby and Padmini metal sheets and under chassis rust and corrode every monsoon.
Teflon coating is nothing but introducing a coat of Teflon with top layer of paint by rubbing/friction heating during the process(Teflon coating and waxing is a totally different thing) Teflon coating is good only in western countries with low ambient temperatures. I was very surprised by the way the 3M products are sold in Toyota showrooms. Ofcourse the dealers make the deal and TKM turns a blind eye.
Primo was standing tall and elegant among his other younger siblings – innova, corolla and Ethios. 13 Vehicles were scheduled for delivery in the showroom for that day. Walked around and scanned every inch for any flaws and was impressed by the fit and finish of my beast. As seen on the pictures above, the Prado grill gives a distinctive rugged look. Temporary registration costs Rs.1650. My SE showed up at 4:45 pm with the registration documents and asked me if I m ready ??!!! Alas I forgot about my wife and kids !! They are still waiting for my call to start from home. I cursed myself for being in my wonderland looking at Primo and quickly asked my wife to come with kids on the Brio. My SE, listening to my conversation jumped in and offered to bring my family on a TD Innova with a driver. Who am I to say NO! I hopped in to the front passenger seat on Innova.
Half an hour later, we all gathered in front of our new family member for a photo session. The 1 hour of paperwork / familiarization / induction / Blah Blah and finally hand over ceremony ! Just when I was planning to get up from my chair for the much awaited drive, SE asked me to fill in the feed back form and politely asked me if I have 10 mins more to spare. Why ? Couple of guys from R&D sales (customer interaction) from Toyota Kirloskar Motors, India. I said “perfect”.
Both guys were more in to sales and customer service experience, even the long list of questionnaire in their hands went in to detailed discussion about how the sales experience can be enhanced. Few questions like,
- If the Sales Executive should carry an ipad for 3D demonstration of the product along with the paper brochure.
- During my waiting period of 2 months was I approached by any other brand and if my sales executive was in constant touch all this while.
- Was I pushed beyond limits to buy accessories.
I asked them about the 3M involvement in Toyota cars. They said it’s the dealer ‘s call. But they included my comment “If 3M coating is allowed on top of Toyota paint work and if any future warranty claims is possible”
Off I go with my family straight from show room to chennai just quench my thirst to drive my pet in open roads.