Took some more test drives. Understood why TATA cars don’t sell (I will elaborate on that later) and why Punto does not sell either.
On the journey for the next small car, went to the TATA website and submitted a request for TD. Exactly 10 secs, I get a call from RD Motors asking me if I would like to TD the Manza. That’s strange I thought, but clarified with him that its the Vista (VX) that I wanted. Also asked him, to send the valuer across so that they can give me the exchange price of my existing car.
The SA arrived dot on time riding a blue Vista demo car, followed by the white Punto. You see in Kolkata, Fiat and TATA are still together and hence the dealer thought it a great idea to send across both, so that who ever is interested can TD both the cars - and probably generate sufficient leads. But I knew quite well what is going to happen. No way you would be choosing the Vista once you had driven the Punto
Anyway, TDed the Vista first, asked my wife to drive (it would be her car after all) and took it through the back roads of my office to Rajarhat connector, went up to 100 - 110 km/hr, tested the brakes and general handling. Then I drove it back to office for the rest of the way.
Following are my wife's observations:
1) Better than the Beat (she was comparing with the last TD) so far as the ride, seating position and engine is considered. Visibility is excellent; turgo lag is minimal & pulls effortlessly. Gear shifting is also good.
2) There is seat height adjustment which helps.
3) Lots of space. The SA was sitting behind the driver seat with one leg crossed over the knee.
4) Boot space is average, but better than Spark or beat.
5) Brakes are good and do their job well.
1) On first gear as you release the clutch and car starts to move, there is a roughness that you can feel. It disappears once you shift up and speed increases. The feeling is very similar to that if you drive on freshly pitched roads, with the gravel and pitch sticking to your tyres. Asked the SA about it and he said that it might be a problem with the demo car.
2) The ride is plushy, you don’t feel the minor bumps on the road and the steering feedback is good but not great. High speed stability is good and this car is miles ahead of the earlier Indica.
3) Plastic quality, fit and finish is good.
4) Music system sucks. Very bland sound, expect something better. Has USB but no BT.
5) Engine is good and very little noise gets in the cabin with the windows up.
Did not get any other cons worth mentioning and given the price and bells and whistle included (ABS& EBD) not a bad proposition. Current offer is 25K discount and 25K exchange bonus. Brings it down to very close to Beat LT (O) prices.
Next as we were walking back, saw the Punto and decided to give it a try. I had TDed the car earlier and hence asked my wife to drive and let me know what she felt. The Punto is still outside my budget so had not considered in my initial assessment. The model we TDed was the top end Emotion.
1) Cabin looks a little dated now, but has all the bells and whistles (auto ac, driver seat height adjust, tilt steering). Space is Ok but not as great as Vista.
2) Externally the car looks good (beauty is in the eye of the beholder but its a design classic for me)
3) The drive was excellent, handling & steering feedback was excellent and my wife liked it better than the Vista (no surprise here.. the price is better than the Vista too
4) Highway stability is very good and since we had TDed the Vista minutes back, could not stop comparing. And yes, the Vista feels like a boat to a person driving the Punto (no offense to Vista owners).
After TD, took the price list and enquired on the discounts. Seems they are giving insurance free and 7K as corporate discounts. However the SA said that there is a scheme that is coming this festive season (he did not have exact details) where you can take 50% discount on insurance and the rest free gifts like GPS or other accessories. Exchange bonus is very less which is Rs.7K (strange). Also mentioned that there might still be 2011 stock available (pretty strange) on which discount available is Rs. 60-70K (not interested).
Now we all know the dealer's profit margin on interest. If you do it outside (not from the dealer) you immediately get a reduction of 25% to 30% on the insurance amount. Also I have 25% no claim bonus in my current car which I will carry forward. So if FIAT is listening, if you really want to sell this beauty, giving insurance free is not enough.
Now as I earlier said, I have always had a liking for the Punto but did not consider it due to my budget. However the SA bringing the Punto along spoiled all chances the Vista had. Even when my wife and I discuss on the Vista, she some how mentions the Punto. It’s a pity to see Fiat selling so few numbers in spite of having such a wonderful machine (even if the design is dated by 6-7 years).