Friday, June 29, 2007


Got a New Car

Got a WagonR

We took delivery of our new car yesterday - a Maruti WagonR, LXi, Silver colour.

Here is the long story of how we arrived at this choice.

Because Sujatha will be doing most of the driving, her opinions counted a lot. I researched and got details on models, short listed the various variants, and the final decisions were taken together.

First, for safety reasons, we did not even consider LPG variants. And CNG is not available in Kerala right now, so we had to confine our options to petrol versions only. Diesel was out of question because we will not be driving much, and I know from experience that diesels deteriorate pretty fast, if not used regularly.

We had initially decided on the Xeta and even had got the loan sanctioned. Xeta is a great car - great options, features and comforts. It is a big car, good interiors, good a/c, spacious, compact for city driving, and is at the lowest end of the price spectrum for the same number of features. We are a big family, and that certainly influenced our initial choice of Xeta.

That Indica is used as a taxi, was a plus from my view point, since presence of a huge fleet of Indica taxis meant easy availability of spares and service 5 years down the line. However, its taxi image did its own undoing. We wanted a colour which is not used as a Taxi, and the only such colour we could find was Blue. But, the dealers were dithering on giving a definite time line for delivery. We had been ignoring the plenty of negative feed back about the Indica.

Much of the negative feed back against the Xeta was from the web, but I was wary of those, since several (NOT all) stories seemed like deliberate plants by the competition. Good reviews in favour of the competition too did not since convincing, since more than one person seemed to post identically worded reviews at seemingly different periods of time. The lesson I learnt was that one should NOT go by info on various internet fora alone, in choosing one's car and its accessories. But, the state of Indica's website was a factor which weighted much with me when I decided to drop it -- apart from the color issue, that is. One should try the website (tataindica . com is a squatter). You are FORCED to sit through a looongish flash video for the Indigo - another, more expensive model based on the Indica. The problem with this lousy, flash based web design was manifold. The correct site,, was not even in the first 5 in a google search for the words ``Tata Indica''.

The navigation, once the flash video finally ended and redirected me to correct page, was horrid. There was no way I could riht click on a link and open it in a new tab. (I want to compare the information on various pages simultaneously, and tabbed browsing offered by Mozilla is great). I finally decided to invoke the ``If you cannot make a website which I can easily access, you are not competent to make a product which I can use'' rule, about which I have written else where on this blog. Of course, google shows results from, but there is no link from to (I have deliberately omitted the http:// from the above urls - the webmasters, if any, at tatamotors are paid for, I presume, creating good web sites, which they certainly have failed at. And I am not going to help them gain proper ranking for that site.)

True, the Xeta has plenty of features, the specifications were juicy, the finish was good, the test drive was comfortable, and Xeta is not Indica, so bad feed back about Indica does not properly apply to Xeta; and Xeta was initially launched in the GL* variants, and then Tatas upgraded them to GV* series; before switching back to the GL* variants. The interiors have vastly improved between the initial GL* series, GV* series and the current GL* series. Besides, several people, including a neighbour gave me good feed back about the XETA. And no other car - repeat - no other car gives you the same features and small comforts in the interior at the same price as an Indica.

We had also considered at the Chevy UVA - because it was backed by Chevy, and the good warranty, but were not willing to place the same trust on their Spark due to its small size and Daewoo origins. The Chevy sales persons did not even call us back when he learnt that we are looking to buy the UVA as the first car!!! Given that attitude, I have actually decided not to consider chevy again.

Santro was not at all considered - mostly due to a negative rating for back seat comfort by several magazines - we are a joint family, with 5 members. If back seat comfort and pricing (which is slightly in the Xeta than in the WagonR) is not an issue, a buyer can consider Santro. Another negative we found in Santro is spare prices, servicing and resale value. (We were willing to take risks on these issues with Xeta, but not with Santro). Of course, Power steering on Marutis is best, because only Suzuki (seems due to a patent) has Electronic power steering; all others use Hydraulics. Santro Xing looks good and sporty, like the Xeta, but I do not think the same about the other models from the Hyundai stable.

Palio was ruled out for same reason as Santro. Fiat is not very quick when it comes to selling and upgrading its products in India, a fact demonstrated in the huge gap between the Uno and launch of Palio and between the several upgrades to the Palio itself. Besides, the Tata sales persons were not keen to sell the Palios - probably because we approached them with the Xeta, and we were keen on the Xeta initially.

Alto, which we were considering initially, lost due to its small size; and the Estillo (No, I will NOT call it a Zen) looks like an ugly bug. Swift was out of our range, and looks as ugly as the Estilo in both of our eyes.

There is no particular reason we choose the WagonR, it is only that other cars got excluded one by one. Thus, WagonR won more by default than on merits, in spite of its ugly and boxy looks, high price, etc.,

On the 2nd day of purchase, I do not find anything justifying the 80K more we have paid over the Xeta GLS. My main grouse at the moment with the WagonR is that unlike the Xeta, there is no provision for speakers in the front doors and in the rear. I am not sure if there is wiring for audio provided; the rear seats are folding; but are not split. The internal light is not as bright as in the Xeta; but those are only cosmetics.

Oh well; I will give more feed back, as we keep using it, and get used to it. But I like being driven around than driving myself; so my reviews will be from a very different perspective. So, stay tuned.

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