Which Car? February 2011 - Edition 2

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Fab choice

I am a very satisfied user of Hyundai cars. I’m thinking of buying a premium hatchback, and I’m confused between the Volkswagen Polo, Skoda Fabia and Hyundai i20 (all 1.2 petrol variants). I love long drives, and I am a driving enthusiast. I would be driving my new car more in the city, around 40 km a day, with the occasional weekend trips out of town. My expectations are fuel efficiency of about 13-14 kpl in city conditions, good ride quality and comfortable seating position and good handling and stability when I drive at about 100-120 kph. I am leaning towards the Fabia, because it has a spacious and comfortable cabin with top class build quality. I am not sure how expensive it would be to maintain, though. The Polo is a very good option, but space, especially at the rear, is not good. The i20 is feature-rich, but I am not sure whether it will match the ride and handling of the Fabia and Polo. Please help me make a decision!

Shriniwas, via email

If you are looking at a car that handles and rides well and has good road manners as well as space, we’d suggest you go in for the Skoda Fabia. The new 1.2-litre engine from the VW Polo is frugal and has decent performance on tap. The Fabia rides better and has better high-speed stability than either the i20 or the Polo. It even handles quite neatly and overall boasts of good build quality. The Fabia’s poor sales in the past has been put down to high pricing and anaemic motors, a matter that has been resolved with the new engine lineup. Skoda has also corrected the price quite a bit to make it competitive, and brought down spare parts prices as well. It’s definitely our choice from among the three.

Suzie queue

I am planning to buy a car. My choice will be between the Maruti Suzuki Ritz and Swift, both diesel variants. Which one should I opt for, and should I wait for the budget to be announced before I buy?

Vikrant Ahlawat, via email

The budget shouldn’t stop you from buying a new car. There could be upward revisions in the duty structure, but we think it might only be for larger cars and not hatchbacks like the Ritz or Swift, which fall under the sub 4-metre category. As far as the two are concerned, the Ritz is more practical in terms of space and is easy to get in and out of. So if you are in a hurry, we’d suggest the Ritz; however, if you can wait for a bit, an all-new Swift is expected in June or July.

Sedan done

I am looking for a car within a budget of Rs 7 lakh. My daily running is around 30 km. Reliability, build quality, mileage and safety are important. I am thinking about the Toyota Etios and the Hyundai i20 Asta. I am told that the 1200cc petrol engine of the i20 is not powerful enough for the car. Feature-wise it is very good. Sedan or hatchback does not make any difference to me, as long as the car is spacious. Can you advise me about which one of the two cars I should go for?

J Sarkar, via email

Both the cars are quite competent but it boils down to what you want — space and practicality or compactness. The i20 is well-loaded and spacious for a hatch. Though the Etios is even more comfortable, it isn’t as well equipped. Since you are looking to spend that kind of money and if body style is less of a concern, then consider the Etios. The 1.5-litre engine is powerful yet frugal, and it has acres of interior room and a large boot. Decent road manners and safety kit apart, Toyota also has a large sales and after-sales network with reasonably-priced spares. This should work out well in your favour.

Any automotive questions? Ask us at srinivas.krishnan@bsmail.in