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Which car? - April II

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Top of the hill

I live in the hills and drive a 2003 Honda City 1.5EXI for about 50 kilometres every day. I’m looking to change it for a car for around Rs 8 lakh that is good fun to drive and has great performance. Kindly suggest which is the best suitable option for me, considering I enjoy driving fast.

Charly, via e-mail

Since you stay in the hills, you need a car that has good bottom end torque and sweet handling characteristics and there’s nothing better than the Ford Fiesta 1.6S for you. It is quick in a straight line, a joy around corners and when you want to take it easy it can pull cleanly even in a higher gear. The overall driving experience is rewarding and you won’t regret it one bit.

Hatch made in heaven

I am looking for a petrol hatchin the Rs 5-6 lakh range. My daily usage is around 15-20 kilometres. I have zeroed in on the Fiat Punto 1.4 Emotion, Hyundai i20 Asta and the Maruti Suzuki Swift ZXi. I am a bit apprehensive about the after-sales service of the Fiat Punto due to Fiat's reputation. I would also like to know your thoughts about the VW Polo and its after-sales network. My main considerations are value for money,ride quality and maintenance costs. Kindly help.

Sanjeev Bansal, via e-mail

There is less reason to be apprehensive about Fiat’s after-sales service, especially since Tata-Fiat have been working hard to improve the quality as well as the strength of its network. Volkswagen is spreading its reach across the country too, though neither can match Maruti’s depth and quality just yet.

The VW Polo should suit your requirements considering it’s a new car and has excellent ride and handling characteristics and has reasonably powerful yet frugal engine. However, if you want to play it safe, then consider the Swift. With the new 1.2 engine it has become more refined, easier to drive around town and less heavy on your wallet. Maruti Suzuki have also improved the ride quality of the car over time while handling has always been its strength. As an overall package, the Swift still works out to be a sweet deal.

Cost conscious

I am planning to buy a sedan with a maximum budget of Rs 9.5 lakh on-road Mumbai. I own a Maruti Suzuki Zen Estilo and my current run is about 25,000 km a year and I have already clocked 75,000 km in the three years that I’ve owned it. Would you recommend a diesel? Cost of ownership is important to me, which is why I was considering the Hyundai Verna diesel automatic. What will you recommend?

Abhijit Khatu, via e-mail

For your usage, a diesel sounds all right and should work out well for you even though the cost of maintenance is a bit on the higher side than a petrol. The Hyundai Verna diesel automatic is a good option that you have considered. It is comfortable, has decent ride quality and has a good balance between power, economy and driveability especially in city conditions. Taking that into account, the Verna should work out just fine.