Going into shortlisting mode:
The journey of automobile started with the obedient CBZ Extreme which I purchased in year 2010 as my old 2 wheeler was running less and emptying my wallet more. Then after 2 wonderful years with the bike the quest for owning a 4 wheeler started bubbling inside.
My requirements were pretty simple and straight forward:
1. Exterior should have nice lines and body contours should be good.
2. It should be a diesel hatchback.
3. Should be loaded with gadgets like 4-power windows, steering adjustment, rear camera, parking sensors, a decent OEM
music system with USB and Bluetooth support being some which were at the top of the list.
4. Boot space should be enough to pack good 5 days luggage for at least 2 people.
5. Should have a light steering and a decent enough turning radius.
6. Engine should not be too noisy like what you have in a Tata Indica (for example)
So with the above in mind, I started going through a couple of websites and shortlisted a few possible choices to be considered from the current diesel market.
1. VW Polo
2. Ford Figo
3. Hyundai i20
4. Fiat Punto
5. Maruti Swift Diesel
VW polo has a nice body shape, a well-organized interior with a very simple yet elegant looks to it, but if I am paying 6.7 lacs for a diesel car I would not settle for an unrefined 3 cylinder engine, an average ride quality, doubtful after sales service, no climate control, no steering mounted controls, no usb port, ordinary rear legroom and no ovrm’s. So sorry VW but I am going to pass this time. The good part about the car was the lock/unlock option given on the door; the boot opens by tilting the VW logo. The alloys are good looking and the music system is ok to end with.
Next car to be driven was a Ford Figo. I am sorry to say the diesel engine sounded very rough at the first instance. Even then I thought I would give it a try. So began the TD and boy I was amazed that the engine was severely underpowered for the car and at high rpm’s there was considerable noise coming if the window was rolled down half way. To move on the car’s interior colour choice was also shocking to me. In a green car how can you have dark brownish and black interior. Ford what’s going on! Then comes the gadget list. There are no steering controls, no instrument cluster; Bluetooth did not work with my Samsung galaxy ace that time so I was disappointed. Positioning of the boot release button is weird and sort of hits you when you enter the car. The center console feels of cheap plastic and I don’t know if it would last with rough usage.
Then comes Fiat Punto which I did not want to even drive when it arrived, because the first impressions were not good as the car was huffing and puffing when it came so I thought to give it a rest and just went through the interiors which to my understanding are close comparison to Ford Figo since it is made as a budget car. Rear leg room was not sufficient and it was all plastic which if tapped would reveal the thin ness of the dash.
Swift did not arrive as promised so gave it a pass. I got a TD call on the day I went to Hyundai’s yard to see my car.
Next came the final option, the uber cool the uber new and the slightly expensive i20 sportz variant which I had finalized keeping in mind all my requirements. This time I decided to go to the sector 63 showroom of capital Hyundai in Noida to see the car up close and personal and then to decide from there on.
Day 1: Arrival at the showroom. Was greeted by Mr. Sarfaraz at the showroom. He was very polite and courteous and straight away was offered cold drink (which I refused since I had slight cold). I expressed my interest in going with i20 sportz model with diesel option so we firstly discussed generally about the car, he brought down some papers explaining to me the feature difference between all the trim options in the i20. Went and looked at the display model which was white in colour. But it was magna so was disappointed. But then he told me that they had a petrol sportz parked downstairs which I could have a look at so I was delighted. I had a look at some of the features which were at the back of my mind (had looked deeply on the website earlier in the day before coming to the showroom). I asked him to bring a diesel sportz vehicle for the TD and so ended the first day.
Day 2: The TD vehicle came and was grey in colour. I drove the vehicle around sector 61, 62 for quite some time. Here are some initial observations:
1. The pick up on 1st gear is moderate.
2. Turbo starts kicking in by 1600 rpm and by 2000 rpm there is a naughty push with which the vehicle launches forward.
3. The engine noise was the least in all the cars I had driven even with window down I could barely hear anything.
4. Tire noise is definitely present.
5. No steering rattle coming (famous for older i20 models)
6. Long clutch travel
7. Dead pedal was nice and chunky and my woodland sandals could fit on it.
8. Braking was a charm with all 4 discs’ and ABS
9. Steering was very very light and I mean I was turning it by one finger.
10. 6 speed transmission was a charm for the vehicle
11. Interior was nice, looked solid and was going to last.
12. Stereo sounded ok for the OEM
unit and steering controls worked like a charm.
13. AC was good and effective (car has clean air technology which means it has some funky filter or something to keep dust etc out)
Day 3: Went and booked the ASTA 1.4 Diesel (Yes I know it is expensive but please read ahead)
Went to the showroom and saw the ASTA Variant of the same car. Following were the observations:
1. Start/Stop button felt like I am in a BMW (it is very soft and I could keep pressing it all day)
2. The keyless entry along with the smart key swept me away with the sensor placement on both front doors.
3. Driver seat has height adjustment which is a good feature for females’ (no discrimination though)
4. Automatic lighting and rain sensing wipers work as advertised, I threw a bottle of water on the windscreen and wipers were thrown into action. I was amazed.
5. Theatre lighting and auto dimming feature were a pleasure to see in action.
6. Rear spoiler gives the rear end quite a look when mated with the rear wiper
So after looking at all this I knew that this is the one for ME.
Day 4: Submitted and signed the documents for a car loan from SBI, got approved and sanctioned within 3 days. Submitted rest of the down payment and got the banker’s cheque from SBI branch.
Day 5,6,7: Spent waiting and waiting to hear something.
Day 8: Was informed that the vehicle has arrived in the stock yard. Went for a PDI check and VIN check was also done. Asked the sales rep to proceed with the booking of the vehicle.
D Day: Scheduled for the delivery day to be on a Monday so had to reach office early, gather the documentation and left for the showroom.Arrived at the showroom and saw the vehicle cleaned up and standing on the front porch.
Did a Pre delivery inspection cum VIN check of the vehicle.
1. Checked for visible dents, damage to outer body.
2. Checked all the fluids for the vehicle.
3. Asked the vehicle to be put on the ramp so could see the underbody.
4. Opened the bonnet to see the business end of the vehicle, looked for any damage, repairs leaking fluids and bent engine mounts and rails.
5. Operated all the electricals in the vehicle, checked the center console and meter (7 kms on the ODO)
6. Started vehicle and checked for blue smoke on start.
7. Checked tyre pressure for all 5 tyres.
8. Checked the accessories which come with the vehicle.
9. A guy from the showroom gave a demo of all the features.
Finally got the underbody rust coating done, and seat covers installed in the showroom itself. After which a quick wash of the vehicle and then all set to go.
Accessories were minimal on this fully loaded ASTA but still got the following:
1. Seat Covers : 4K
2. Underbody Rust Coating : 2K
Freebies given were as under:
1. Mud flaps
2. Floor mats
5. Box of chocolates
6. A photo of me + my better half + car nicely framed.
7. 5 litres of diesel coupon could be redeemed at nearby petrol pump.