Urge/Need for car:
I always believed in efficient public transportation with smaller carbon footprints on global scale and optimum and efficient utilization of road and other public space (read parking lots etc.). Due to this ideological belief, we (including my wife) never thought of buying a car. However things changed once we decided to have a baby. We planned (we are demographers) and it happened and our Doc. strictly advised us to travel by public transport or bumpy three wheelers. We started hiring a Kala/Pila (Maruti Eco) with monthly cost of 9000 since March. On top of it, we had to negotiate with the driver every hospital or other visit (detour from her office) and trust this was the worst part. Fixing priorities/Budget/Fuel type/safety/Car type:
I was very clear from the outset about the safety features (cost little more but worth it in case of an eventuality) and this left with the choice of only top variants of either fuel type; petrol or diesel.
1. Budget: Was no issue but did not wanted to spend exorbitantly high on a hatch. I fixed my budget around 6.2-6.4 with sun films (V Kool).
2. Fuel type: I always wanted to run car with low cost and occasionally, if at all, I take her to highways, fuel bill should not burn hole in my pocket. Owing to this fact I shortlisted diesel initially but then changed my mind and decided for petrol and then again to diesel, I was really confused.
3. Car Type: I wanted to have a city hatch with which I can hit highways occasionally. Hatch means no parking pain and easy to maneuver on Delhi roads. Cars short listed:
Meeting aforementioned criterion, I finalized following cars:
Diesel: Figo, Fabia, Swift (did not consider Indica due to cab image though its fabulous product, Grande Punto due to Fiat services have nothing to write home about).
Petrol: Fabia, Sift, Polo, Honda Jazz, i20.
TD experience: Let me clear certain points which are subjective and contentious such as TD vehicle did not arrive on time or TD car was not clean etc. Personally I am very punctual and always respect time but this was not deal breaker because SA’s deal many customers simultaneously and very low percentage of enquiries and TD’s realizing into actual sale.
Figo: Car was smooth and turbo lag was minimal though noticeable. Ford has flattened the torque to suit the urban drivability. I liked the car, equipment on top variants except Automatic Climate Control, steering reach and rack adjustment, rear theater style reading lights, electrically folding ORVMs.
Fabia: I always loved this car inside out and I still do. Car is screwed together nicely, no rough edges, not visible panel gaps, high quality plastics thought hard to touch but can resist abuse mated by owners. Few goodies missing: ACC, rear wash wiper (very useful in hatches during Monsoon), rear defogger, electrically adjustable and folding ORVMS, rear speakers (though I did not miss them as factory fitted music system is among the best in class or one segment above).
Positives of Fabia: Cavernous boot (315 liters next only to Jazz), rear bench space, very good noise insulation, anti pinch front windows and real power windows, very powerful AC (though manual)
Horror stories of Skoda after sale service: I have heard and read a lot on other automotive forums (now I feel they are actually biased and have made mountain out of mole). Dealer experience was pretty good; TD vehicle came on time (always) and gave me 4 TDs (same dealer), SA was really good. Skoda have service interval of 15000 with service cost of 5500 (with synthetic oil which is 850-900 Rs/ltr).
Fabia diesel had huge turbo lag below 1600-1800 rpms but progress was agonizingly slow but after that it was different world all together and experience. Car was planted at 120 (on Delhi-Gurgaon E-Way), breaking was confidence inspiring, and within city traffic gear shift was minimal.
Fabia Petrol: Petrol was pure delight to drive and not complains whatsoever. NOTE: Gear shift is smooth as silk.
Polo- Petrol: I booked a TD over phone and SA told me that he will bring car to my door next day but he didn’t turn up (remember he did not bother to call me). One fine evening I went to WV Saket dealer at 8.45 in the evening. They were off for the day but SA took me for a short spin. Car share’s engine with Fabia so same story for petrol (no complains) pure fun but car is more of style and less on mettle. Rear bench space was low and boot was comparable with Figo (285 ltrs). Was actually put me off was its atrociously high price for highline variant with no offers. This was deal breaker.
Swift Petrol: Maruti does not believe in providing TD vehicle for hot selling cars such as Alto, Swift and its sedan. SA obliged me to do reverse in the parking lot.
Swift Diesel: TD for diesel is unknown word for Maruti. In fact SA told me to borrow from friends and make my mind as they sold their TD vehicle as well with 12000 on ODO.
I20: Everything was fine but very weak AC and subpar performance of car. I did not consider this car beyond this point.
JAZZ: Very good car with loads of features but overpriced. SA gave me deal of 7.20 OTR Delhi for mid variant.
1. Fabia Petrol: 6 Lakh OTR (Delhi) with Basic Kit, Teflon Coating for Elegance.
2. Swift Petrol: 5.85 with absolutely no free goodies.
3. Polo: 6.90 OTR for high line (Deal breaker)
1. Figo: 6.23 OTR Delhi with Titanium kit (Side beadings, fog lamps, 4 alloy wheels, PU seat covers), parking sensors, baic kit (mud flaps and floor mats).
2. Fabia: I did not considered diesel seriously due to turbo lag in the city range (less than 1800-2000 Rpms). Booking:
After loving the Fabia, I booked it and paid half the amount on booking itself and was suppose to take delivery after 4 days in cappuccino beige colour with Good year GT 3 (185/60/R14).
I was talking to one of my colleague and he said, once you have car, invariably you will use it without thinking much about the running cost (indirectly he told me go for Diesel instead of petrol).
Next day I went to Delhi Ford with cheque book and took a comprehensive TD and paid the amount.
Refund from Skoda: I am yet to get money back. I hope by Tuesday I will get it back. Dealership experience:
Pre Sale: SA was fine; manager was straight jacketed Sardar (I like this kind of people). I did not took anything verbal and told them to give me in writing which he did (not on letterhead but signed by him). Delivery: Due to non availability of Titanium Kit, I took delivery of car without it and SA told me that they will inform me and install it. Delivery in-charge was a nice guy and told me not to go for anti rust and Teflon coating due to heavy downpour. Service Center Experience:
Yesterday I went to get Titanium Kit installed (I did not receive any call, In fact followed up). I reached service center at 12.00 and told the guys to get it installed. Before they could install, car had to be washed and washing took place at 2.30, after that anti-rust and Teflon coatings.
After this car was taken over by a seemingly (actually he is nice) nice guy to install seat covers, fog lamps and side protective strips. Somehow I insisted to have alloys first and other things later.
Nasty Scratches: After 30 minutes rubber was on alloys and guys (another) was about to fit them. Out of sheer curiosity I enquired; whether wheel balancing was done or not and actually he did not. After that he did and alloys were fitted and car was ready to be taken to body shop for other installments.
There was a scratch (entire screen was full of it) on parking sensor screen. I told them to replace it and area in-charge was quick to dismiss my claim by saying that, I should have checked it at the time of delivery.
Meanwhile I noticed scratched on one of the alloy wheel and then went on to check all four and to my horror all had nasty scratches. I informed them and asked to replace it. I called up their manager and asked him to come with me. He said sir aise scratches toh lagte hi hai. Aap chinta mat karo aur car gha le jao.
Mean while I figured out that these scratches were result of wheel balancing (wheel balancing machine has lock; kind of iron cap which was suppose to had rubber protection/gasket). Due to negligence of concerned person or apathy on the part of managerial staff this gasket was gone and resulted in direct contact of lock’s iron ring with the alloys.
Once manager got the real cause, he uttered two serious advises: install wheels without balancing and to avoid any problem doe to this, I should drive car more than 80 km/hr. But I flatly refused to take the delivery of vehicle until they install new alloys. Again he told me to take my money back and sacrifice idea of alloys. Finally mechanic (nice guy) came up with the solution. He advised to use foam for the protection of alloys during wheel balancing. This worked and I got newer set of alloys minus scratches.
By the time this high voltage drama unfolded, it was 7 Pm and I was informed to come next day get remaining stuff installed which I did today. Today was smooth and hitch free. In the process, I made quite a few friends (mechanic, spare manager and one customer). About Car:
Do I need to write about the car now? People have filled pages after pages in the praise of this beauty.
Fuel Efficiency: Despite diesel, I am getting pretty low FE of 11-12 with 1st tank to tank method. My as of now my running limited to short distance of 5-10 kms in South Delhi with AC always on. I am not revving engine very hard, driving very sedately in the range of 1500-2000 rpms. I have not pusher engine beyond 2000 rpms yet.
I heard from other owners and informed by SA that I should get at least 15-16 with Ac within city and 20+ on highways (I haven’t touched highways yet). Guys please drop in your word of wisdom on FE and maintenance.