For the last few years my trusted steed was a 2007 Esteem Vxi. I was very happy with the car and it was a hoot to drive. Never let me down and always managed to put a smile on my face be it in city or while stretching it out on the highways. Redlining her in second was a different feeling all together. Come March 2014 , while having tea below my office a young chap came up to me and asked if I was willing to sell the car.
Fast forward to July the individual kept following up in the meantime and the price was negotiated to 1.15L. It wasn't that I was thinking of buying a brand new car. My idea was to replace my car with another Esteem which belonged to a friend. The reason was my esteem was already 90k on the odo and I will have a few long drives coming up periodically. I am very paranoid when it comes to cars and which made me think about letting her go. Also I had bought her nearly 3 years back at 60k on the odo for 1.25L. So the price I was getting was also pretty good. My friend's esteem was < 50k driven so adding a little more would get me a newer and less driven car.
All this while I was also thinking about using the lease option with my company. I was paying more than 70k every year as tax and that was biting me. By taking a lease I could save at least 60 k from it which was tempting. Plus I had push from ‘stronger forces’ to buy a first-hand car this time. So began the process of taking multiple TDs. My requirements were pretty less. Performance equal or better than the esteem. I never used the boot in the esteem and its 90% just 2 of us in the car so space wasn't the issue. I wanted to have safety features but budget was pretty constrained. Decided and booked the Alto K10 in Glistening Grey color from Machino Techno, Kolkata. The day I went for the booking I saw a Silver Ritz Vxi Elate version on display. I loved the Ritz during the earlier test drive and it ticked all the boxes. All other cars had some shortfall or the other. The ‘stronger force’ was with me as well and she said the magic words ‘Let’s buy the Ritz. We’ll manage’. I negated it and booked the Alto and asked for the Proforma Invoice so that I can submit the same in office for the lease processing. The legal documents were done when suddenly I realized I had declared a couple of thousands less with payroll for the rental payments. Which means the entire process requires to be redone and I need to put in a fresh declaration. Now I started thinking seriously about the Ritz. Some quick calculations and discussions and I decided to take the plunge. The model chosen was the Zxi in white color because if I am spending more than the initial budget its better I have all the safety kits. Options considered
I guess I test drove every single hatch in the market with the 3.5 to 6.5L range. Honda Brio:
If I didn't get delivery of the Ritz, this is what I would have gone for. Gem of an engine and a real go-kart and the world is your track. I didn't mind the lack of boot space nor the lag in low rpm. The ground clearance was what I was skeptical of and compared to the Ritz it was a little bare bones. Also when i inquired about the cost of fitting fog lamps to a SMT they quoted a whopping 11k. however it was still there in contention till the end. Grand i10:
Liked the car a lot. Filled with features and a sweet engine. However things that put me off was the super light steering and the dependence on electronics. Everything was so driven by electronics. Also the cost of replacement of these parts in the event of minor dings didn't help in assuring me either. Ford Figo:
Brilliant ride and handling however dud of an engine. If I had to buy a diesel, I would have gone for it maybe. Excellent offers were available. Fiat Punto 1.2:
Again very good ride and handling and awesome stability. Clings like a leach to the road. However dismal engine. I was literally standing on the accelerator and car just won't move. You need to really push the engine to gain speed. Maruti Swift:
Somehow the response in 2nd gear in slow speed was not great. I expected better. The test drive car was a brand new one with 80 kms on the odo. I would have still gone for it if not for the price difference with the Ritz which has the same engine and built on the same platform. 1L + for automatic climate control and ORVM with indicators did not seem justified. The cost of Swift Vxi OTR and that of Ritz Zxi was exactly the same. Also at that time Swift Vxi did not come equipped with music system so that would have been an extra cost apart from the less space and boot size. Maruti Alto K10 (old version):
Pocket rocket. Blast to drive however very basic even when coming from the Esteem. Due to financial constraints I had even booked one before shifting to the Ritz. Toyota Liva:
Loads of space however very basic interiors and an engine like the figo. I feel its overpriced based on what it has to offer. Volkswagen Polo:
I don't think anyone even comes close with the quality of this car. Very classy interiors and fit and finish. If not for the 3 cylinder engine I would have bought it. It gives you a completely different feeling sitting inside one. Very usable features and they did not waste money by putting in a Start/Stop button but rather have windows being rolled up with the remote. I do hope to own a 1.5 TDI or a GT someday soon. Ford Classic:
: Not a hatch but I really wished I had bought this car and I am sure I do not need to mention the reasons why. However the dealers were very unwilling to sell the car and were pushing the Figo which pissed me off. Also the Titanium variant was way over budget and I did not try to convince myself further.
Points which went in favor of the Ritz:
a. Absolute VFM
. At 5.7L OTR in Kolkata for the Zxi trim including 4th year extended warranty, it was a steal.
b. Lots of Space in the front and that's where the seats will be occupied 90% of the time.
c. Excellent drivability thanks to the K12M engine.
d. Safety and other usable features.
f. Better build quality than the other Marutis.
f. Maruti ownership experience and customer service.
I was promised a delivery in 4 weeks during Durga Pujas. In the meantime the esteem was sold off and I started using the Alto which was at that time was solely doing duty for my mom. 4 weeks passed and the car was still not dispatched from Gurgaon. Revised delivery date was that for Diwali. In the meantime my mom was getting pretty angry since she had no access to the car for a month and I had to give back the car to her. Started using the bike unwillingly to office every day. At this time my landlord was in the US and he called me to ask if my new car had come. When I sadly said no, he immediately asked me to use his 4 year old Wagon R Vxi (7000 kms on the odo) till the new car came. I accepted the offer however was getting really angry in the meantime with the dealer. I started calling up all the dealers in the city and no one had a Ritz Zxi in stock. I was contemplating going for a Swift Vxi or Honda Brio SMT however none came with safety features. Swift Zxi was around a lakh more and I didn't think it was justified considering I would get only climate control as extra and indicators in the ORVM as extra.
At last I found one dealer who had Granite Grey Zxi however that was a showroom display car. The only thing that made me a bit hesitant was that Granite Grey Ritz’s came with the Red and Grey interiors only. I went to check it along with a friend and did an on spot PDI. The car was a May’15 manufactured car however was spotlessly clean since it was in the showroom itself. Everything seemed okay and I finalized the car.
I got delivery of the car within a week. No extras taken from the dealer except MGA seat covers apart from the kit they give. Wanted black and red, got black and beige. Grrrrrrrrrrr!!! Within a couple of days got the below fitted.
a) Changed the tyres immediately to Michelin XM2s. OEM
was horrible JK Tyres
b) Minda dual trumpet horns replaced the OEM
c) iPop mini steering knob and adjustable blind spot mirrors
d) 3M Clear Door Handle Paint Protective film
e) Autographix bumper and door guards
f) Ring Automotive headlamp bulbs sourced from UK
The car is now around 8000 kms on the odo. I am enjoying each and every moment spent with it. Exterior
The shape of the car is disliked by many. For me I loved the design from day one. It’s absolutely unconventional and distinctive. Looks like an arrow from the side. Post the face lift in 2012 I love the front and the addition of the rear spoiler has made the rear more appealing. The gaps are consistent and the flared wheel arches are nice, though I need to be careful in traffic. The doors are pretty heavy with two stage movements and feels solid unlike other Marutis. Excellent ground clearance with easy ingress and egress. Interior
The interiors of the car are very well designed and the ergonomics are spot on. The dash mounted tacho adds to the sporty look and all the buttons and knobs are well within reach. The gear lever integrated into the water fall center console falls in your hand easily. The tacho placement is ideal since thats where I would be looking mostly when changing gears and not in the speedo. I can operate the AC buttons and knobs without even taking my hands of the 'short' shifter.
The view from the driver seat is great of the road in front of you since you are sitting pretty high up. All seats have adjustable head restraints. Space is more than enough inside and rear seat passengers do not feel claustrophobic due to a pretty airy cabin. Being a tall boy head space is not an issue at all and due to the high placement of seats you just walk in and out of the car without crouching. The boot space is pretty decent for a hatch and bigger than that of Swift. It also has shopping hooks on either side for hanging your bags. Other storage spaces available are below the rear bench seat and the drawer below the front passenger seat. Engine, Performance & Braking
The highlight of the car is the fantastic 1.2L K series engine which does its duty in the Swift as well. The acceleration of the car in 2nd and 3rd gears pushes you back to the seats. The engine is super silent when idle and the exhaust has a meaty growl when revved. Except for comparatively shorter gearing than the esteem, the fun factor is much more. I regularly take it past 120 kmph with ease sometimes not even realising I have gone past 100 kmph till I looked into the speedo. Body roll is present during cornering however pretty decent for a hatchback. The steering is direct, and heavy compared to Hyundais. FE in city is about 14-15 with air con on and 18+ on the highways.
The ride is a little bumpy since the car has a stiff suspension however the wider and softer Michelins does help in cushioning and reducing tyre noise. The car feels solid and well planted even at high speeds. The weight of the cars contributes to the same I guess. Even though the Ritz is smaller than the Swift in length and breadth, its heavier than the latter. Sound insulation is decent with the firewall padding helping to ensure sound and heat does not seep into the cabin. The Air con is spot on and I never had to go beyond ‘2’ to keep the cabin cool.
The brakes are pretty good and has a good bite. I haven't yet got a chance to test the ABS
(not that I am complaining) except when I purposely slammed the brakes to reassure myself that the ABS
works. Standard Features
The Ritz Zxi comes with pretty decent usable features though not as rich as the Hyundais.
a. Dual SRS airbags
c. All 5 alloys
d. In dash Nippon music system and 4 door mounted speakers and steering mounted audio controls. USB and Aux in added. The music system is pretty decent for OEM
standards however upgrade to components in the pipeline
e. All 5 power door locks which get locked when the car crosses 20kmph. The boot doesn't have a lever or keyhole to be opened from outside. Just press the Door Lock/Unlock button and the boot is unlocked. Gone are days of bending down and feeling for the handle at mall entries
f. Rear wiper and defogger. Was pleasantly surprised to find the wiper blade to be among the few parts which are ‘Made in Japan’ SGP parts
g. Height adjustable front seat belts and steering wheel
h. Height adjustable driver seats
i. Electrically adjustable ORVMs (not fold able)
j. Security Alarm system with shock sensor
The car has already gone through 2 services and engine oil changed during both. I am going with mineral for the time being and then moving to synthetic at 10k. He has also gone through a pampering session of car detailing courtesy a friend in the detailing business who has done a brilliant job as always.
A few pics below. Apologies for the quality since they are all clicked on the phone.
The Ritz at the showroom Pampering in Progress Interior Shots
View from the back seat
The red interiors blend well and not as bad I had thought it would be . I like the carbon fiber look on the dash.
The waterfall console and integrated 'short' shifter
Storage box on the dashboard. Very useful for toll tickets and parking cards at malls.
Both front doors have spaces for storing 1L bottles
Roof light. Replaced the OEM
bulb with LEDs.
Storage below the handbrake. Barely big enough for an iPhone 6 however larger phones may get damaged. Cup holder being used for perfume.
12V socket , but the space beside it is not big enough for a phone
Driver seat height adjust. Levers feel a bit flimsy.
The buttons on the driver door panels. The 'Lock' button unlocks the boot as well and is the only way of doing so.
The Steering mounted controls and iPop Mini.
The rear boot. The rear struts can be accessed by removing the covers on either side.Also do notice the anti rattle rubber inserts.
The K12M engine
The color of these lights are awesome and has a great high beam. The low beams are better than OEM
. My nearest stockist is 8000 kms away.
The ORVMs have great visibility and adjustable blind spot mirrors helping even further. Exterior pics
The infamous rear