We are using a Hyundai Santro and are happy with it. Now we want to buy a sedan. Which of these cars is a better choice — the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire, Toyota Etios or VW Vento? Should I consider any other sedan? We are looking at a car that is fuel efficient, has good power, is durable and comfortable. We may drive about 500 km per month and occasionally on highways. Our budget is Rs 6 to 6.5 lakh. Can you recommend a car for us? MV Shah, via email
Of the cars you have mentioned, the Etios is worth a try. It has the most amount of space, is quite comfortable for five and has a powerful, durable and efficient petrol engine. The Etios is also well engineered to tackle bad roads and makes for a very good highway car, while its light steering and compact dimensions make it easy to manoeuvre around town. If you can afford to wait, given the six-month long waiting period, we think the Etios will serve you well for the next few years.
My wife drives an 11-year old Honda City, which is now beginning to show its age (around 100,000 km on the odometer). She enjoys driving it. While she does not drive much (about 1,000 km per month), she needs a car that is easy and fun to drive, has a large trunk, has powerful airconditioning with vents for the back seat (she uses a driver sometimes), reliable and easy on maintenance. I drive her car sometimes too, and I enjoy driving and am a discerning driver. I have test driven the VW Vento diesel and am quite impressed with it. It is a bit over the budget that I had in mind, but I am prepared to fork out the extra money if it is worth the while. Do you think that it is a good choice or would you recommend some other car? Noni Chawla, New Delhi
How about sticking to the Vento, but going in for the petrol instead? We think for the kind of running your wife will do, the petrol works out to be just fine, while not hurting your pocket much. The 1.6-litre engine is peppy enough for city and highway use. It’s also efficient enough and while it may not cost as much as the diesel, the difference in price should still help make amends. With the Highline version you get all the bells and whistles too, including air vents at the rear. Considering the overall scheme of things, this should be just fine.
I need to buy a diesel car (hatchback/sedan) with airbags, ABS, fog lamps, etc to ensure highway safety. At least 70 per cent of my driving will be on the highway, but there is also the usual stop-and-go city traffic. I have test-driven the Maruti Suzuki Ritz, Skoda Fabia, Ford Figo and the Hyundai i20. Two problems: one, with airbags, etc even a hatchback goes beyond Rs 7 lakh and I find that way too expensive. Two, after the test-drive I was unhappy with almost all of them. I found the Fabia (and by extension the Polo) has almost no power below 1500 rpm. The Ritz has the least lag, but there was clear body roll and also no airbags in any model, although I found it fun when the turbo kicks in. The i20, at least the one I drove, was okay to drive: the lag was minimal, but it did not have great handling. Which one would you suggest? I hope to keep the vehicle for at least five years. Rupinder, via email
Good observations! We agree with you that a hatch should have all the safety kit possible with good on-road dynamics. Looking at all the factors, we think the Ford Figo 1.4 Titanium diesel should be the perfect fit. It has good amount of space on the inside, has very good on-road dynamics and probably the best handling setup among the cars you have selected. You also get twin airbags and ABS as well as a diesel motor that is reasonably refined, peppy and nice to drive across the rev range. Even the gearing is well suited for city use and hides turbo lag quite well. And best of all, the Figo offers terrific value too. Go for it!
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