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.

Thanks for the detailed post. Obviously it is the xeta that your heart longed for, and somewhere along the lines I wonder if there is a regret for not going for xeta. Maybe time will clarify that grain of doubt... I'm waiting for your updates
Its very disheartening to learn that you bought the WagonR because it won "by default", while you had never intended to buy it.

All the best, and drive safe.

Nitin (TIUG)
Nice detailed review on your car buying process... Xeta is definitely a good car... and you did the right thing to go for WagonR . Just imagine ,having a large family and if you had bought a Xeta and going for trips and tours and in the middle of the road it stalls(which it usually does) and no where to go, then you will curse the car and who think that even though WagonR was little cramped it would have been reliable and the trip/tour would have been memorable. Just Imagine... Anyways i'm very fond WagonR was that reliability... thanks Maruti for an amazing car...
I also found accessing Xeta website difficult. Even if you enter it takes one into Diesel Indica and there are no links to Xeta site. The better way to reach is through from click twice on products and choose Xeta. The Indigo Banner (the car is shown as speeding on the wrong side of the Indian Road) is irritating and there is no other choice but to sit through it. Any way I am going ahead with buying Xeta GLS (getting it delivered in a day or two) as I am convinced that it is a combination of Bad website but a Real Good Car.
Good to read your post, it was interesting. I too am planning to buy a car and some how got carried away by Xeta. My heart says to buy Xeta but the reviews frighten me a bit. Still not able to make the decision.
Thanks for such detailed information....I was planning for a used car, since i am not a very good driver...and the traffic in bglr is very hectic..since i found the price of XETA more reliable, i changed my view in buyin a new car..but still i am in a floating state not knowing what to do
Santhosh, if you an absolute newbie to driving, you may be better off going in for a very ancient (10 to 15 years old) M800. Just ensure that it has good batteries and good tyres. Everything else is a bonus. Such a car should not cost you more than 30 to 40K. Drive this around for about 3 or 4 months; and you will still get 30 to 40K when you sell it. You are sure to get plenty of scratches on the body. Do not do any patch work till just before you decide to sell it.

Once you are comfortable with driving, you should consider the just launched Hyundai i10 and (probably to be launched by then) new version of the WagonR.

I do feel that xeta does deserve some consideration...
I agree about the website. Reminds me of my rule: "Never use Flash in place of markup!". Besides, the site has some grammar and spelling mistakes too.

Having said that, Tata Motors makes cars, not websites. I too started off to buy a used WagonR, but found that the Xeta GLS with 30k discount (3.1Lakhs on road) is very near my budget.

Test-drove it, LOVED IT, booked it. Getting it in around a week. I will find out myself about the socalled issues, (whether it "usually stalls" etc).

One more thing, Xeta is the only car in its segment which has independent suspensions. I wonder why this is never mentioned, but it is important. It is also heavier and not-top-heavy, which means it has great dynamics on highways. On city it has a decent peppy engine.

Braking is excellent and AC is decent.

And yes, WagonR is a great car too. But it was out of my budget when I started out. Now I am glad of that, because I am getting a more-or-less similar car for some 80k less!
Any Xeta user can tell his experience please. I want to buy this car. Your review will help me.

Here are some links to help you.

Hope this helps
Thanks Mahesh, your links are very usefule to me.
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