On discussing with my wife, she felt that the Linea was a bit stretching our budget and i20 might be okay for its feature rich options. Then, it’s shopping time.
First visited Hyundai showroom to take a look at the i20. The car was there waiting for us as it had been waiting for everyone else. Opened the doors and sat inside. Actually, tried to sit inside. Oh, no! It was just like our Zen. We had to sit very low and right away it was ticked off the list. If at all we’re going to buy a car, then, we don’t want to sit down to get in and out. Then my wife tried the i10. Voila! She was perfectly happy. Easy ingress and digress. Immediately took a TD; very nice. U-turns were as smooth as silk; easy drivability. Everyone was happy with it. Later found that only petrol head was available; no diesel. Even “kitna detha hye” aspect wasn’t encouraging. And from my side (driver’s sideJ), no ABS
& no feedback from the steering. It was like driving on a glass. So, dropped that one too.
Now the search on the net went much deeper. More hatches were reviewed and considered. Oh! Definitely the three strokers weren’t considered as I started to gain a bit of knowledge about the auto car industry. Remember, I’m not an auto fanatic. By now, we had realized that we were looking for a Diesel hatch (me: Linea only); with some decent mileage & space and comfort and drivability and most importantly with ABS
(we travel quite a bit on highways). Airbags alloys, steering mounted controls optional.
By now, our list had shrunk (or grown?) to
4. Indica Vista Refresh
Asked for the TDs. Ford dealer promised but never arranged to send the car to my home. In the meantime, I also got some feedback from Figo owners that the ground clearance is too low and the chances of AC compressor scraping the speed breakers are more; and also we need to really sit low to ingress and digress. So, Figo was out of the list even without a TD. Linea:
didn’t do any TD. But my wife was against it as it’s a bit stretchy on the budget. Also my garage is too small (by a whole three feet) for the Linea. And, I don’t want to park the beauty outside my house every night. What a shame! Just a newly built house but not planned for a sedan of such a class. By the way, you can tuck in a scooty in Linea’s booty, you know! J Swift:
Visited the Maruti showroom. Sat inside swift and swift dzire; oh...no! (Again) The rear leg room was found wanting. And in swift, the boot space is painfully small. Though the mileage aspect was good on these cars, we struck off these from our list. And a surprise! My wife liked the tall boy versa. But for its outdated exterior my daughters weren’t impressed claiming that it was a very old model.
Some of you might know that I’m into equities. There are a couple of clichés from the financial markets I want to quote here.
One is “Trend is your friend” and I’m a trend follower. With that said, I should have booked the Swift with my eyes closed. But the claustrophobic cabin and the not so comfortable rear leg room and the almost non existing boot space made me to think otherwise.
Another cliché is, “bull markets are built upon pessimism; and the bear markets on optimism”. For Punto, it’s like pessimism among the public which is going to turn into a market leader. (Ah! High hopes??) Of all the people I interacted with (like the school van drivers, driving schools’ helping hands at the RTO offices, call taxi drivers, sabji wallahs and chai,pani waalas sort of normal guys) almost 70 percent of them don’t know about Fiat’s Linea & Punto. They all can easily remember or recall cars like VW, indicas, nanos, Fords, Hyundais and Toyotas. So, this must be the right time for the FIAT people to upscale their promotional activities to cater to those people as well; to make the FIAT brand an household name; they should try to carry the FIAT brand from enthusiasts to the common man; it shouldn’t be restricted only to the net savvy enthusiasts; for which they need to spice up their marketing and sales activities; and beef up on the service part and spare parts availability. FIAT – Are you listening? Can you do it? Or can I do it for you? Punto:
My daughters simply loved the gorgeous looks. The front nose indeed is a head turner. On our way to the showroom itself, we spotted one BNW punto and I tagged along to get a feel of it. It was very nice! Another pointer is that none of their friends’ dad owned this one. But, my wife wasn’t impressed with the punto as the price tag was a bit stretched for the hatch standards.
TD-ed Punto thrice twice at home and once at the showroom
The tank like build quality and the sound of “thud” closing door made me not to go beyond (Linea at first and then the) punto. The cranking was smooth; the engine came to life. I shifted into first gear; wait! The clutch! What is it? It’s got a long ply! Its long ply made me very, very uneasy. But the SE assured me that once I get a hang of it, everything would be fine. (Fly by wire clutch, SE mentioned). And the gears weren’t as smooth as my Zen. The ORVMs were too tiny to look at. To make matters worse, the rear view mirror wasn’t exactly the way I’m used to in my Zen. Wait for more! Those A and C pillars were creating blind spots too. These were the things I noticed within a couple of kms driving away from the showroom. My wife was mentally noting down all these concerns to reject the car, when given the chance. Then, the SE asked me to take the car to the nearby highway. Once on the highway, I let her go. Gee! She could munch miles. The SE hid the speedo and asked my wife and daughter (who were sitting at the back) to guess the speed; both of them said like 70 or 80. Well! I was into the triple digits already and he took his hands off the speedo. My wife was surprised at this speed masking ability. On the highway, I could really feel the car transforming into a beast. (I came to know from the net that it’s due to the design and placement of the ORVMs. I feel that the punto also lacks proper around the door beadings on the doors). However, the beast became a bit noisy when revved a bit more. There was this “whoosh” wind noise also creeping inside the cabin in triple digit speeds. And I was zipping with gusto and applied the brakes. I was happy with ABS
. From the 3rd gear onwards on the highway, it was gem of a drive. Off the highway and into the b2b traffic section. As that was my first drive in diesel, I really felt the torque much more easier to drive in b2b traffic. The 1st and 2nd gears were totally different from my Zen. By this time I got used to the torque drives. The steering was communicating to me unlike what the i10 did. The hydraulic PS was a treat to drive. Forgot to mention! The ACC chilled the cabin within a couple of minutes in the Chennai’s hot summer. Fantastic! (The TD car was parked outside in the hot sun, FYI
) Big boot space. On the whole, I was okay but my wife wasn’t happy with the way I drove the car. She felt that I wasn’t as comfortable as driving the i10. (She still had i10 in her minds but it got ticked off from our list during later stages for the reasons mentioned above in the i20 section) So now, it was three of us together for punto against one (my wife). Now you all could have found out who had the majority and who would have easily won, right? But that’s not the case. My wife was eyeing for “the “ deal breaker in the name of…. Indica Vista Refresh
TD-ed twice (one at home and one at the showroom)
Wow! There was a cool one lakh and some 30 k difference between GP Emotion and Vista Vxi models with TATA’s really exciting exchange bonus and offers. For that difference, my wife was looking for some jewellery. (Sigh! This gold has really gone out of our reach nowadays! Isn’t it?)
The dealer brought one TD summer sparkle Vxi to our home. It was spaciously spacious! I was a bit skeptical of the 165mm GC. The drive was peppy when compared to the punto TD. However, the AC wasn’t that great. The SE mentioned that being a spacious car, it takes a bit more time to chill. Bright looking interiors; steering mounted controls; USB plus Bluetooth; centrally located instrument clusters (didn’t make a difference to me!).
What else do you want for a VFM
My co-brother accompanied us for the second TD (this time on a LS grey – odo was disconnected. Not happy with the concorde motors for this aspect. The SE said that the car was going for another TD after mine. Later, I found out that Concorde motors doesn't have any TD Vista Refresh. They just disconnect the odo from a new car and use it as a TD car for a couple of days. Then, they rotate the TD process with another car. Too bad!). He (my co-bro) was also not happy with AC on the second car also. TATA’s niggling issues also were considered to tick off this car from our list
(much to my wife’s disappointment) Liva:
TD-ed twice (once at home and the next at the showroom)
Wow! Very, very easy drive-ability; great mileage; bigger ORVM make it easier to look at. We found this one as a user friendly car within the first five minutes of our TD. Space, space and space at the rear bench. My wife and two daughters along with a toddler soaked up in comfort at the rear seat. The cabin was airy and real cool! The AC was fine too. My wife was very happy with the car.
But the caveats were that NVH can be heard & felt in the cabin; the car was crying to touch the 100km mark. Moreover, there were only two variants available with messed up combos; like only four speakers (two front & two tweeter provided) and you need to spend some more Vitamin M for the HU. No fog lights in the base variant. When these things were added together, it almost touched the GP Dynamic pricing. So, reluctantly stuck this one out too.
Most of the netizens are talking about the lack of rubber beadings on the Liva doors. I find that the Punto Dynamic has partial rubber beadings only; only the upper portion of the doors have the rubber beadings with a bit slightly extended downwards; bottom of the doors lack the rubber beadings. The slush and mud from recent rains in Chennai have found some space on my door ledges; on dry, summer days, the door ledges are dust magnets. L. My Zen LX had rubber beadings all around the doorsJ.
So, we decided on the Punto Emotion BNW. But wait! There is no easy way out. The dealer didn’t have BNW emotion. He had only Dynamic BNW. And there was this talk about probable Excise duty hike going on around. So, I let go off the ACC, alloys, steering mounted controls and Blue & Me and took the Dynamic. My wife was happy that the bill was some 70k lighter. It’s a WIN-WIN for both of us.
P.S: if any of you’re building your own houses/or going to build one in future (all the best!), please have your garage space well planned to accommodate a much bigger car. Please don’t think of a hatch only. You never know! If at all I had an iota of an idea about it, Linea Emotion or Dynamic BNW would be in my garage by now. (I’m sure that I could have convinced my wife into itJ)