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Which car? - July I

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Gassy gassy

I’m a doctor and I live with my parents. We are planning to buy our first car and I have a budget of Rs 4.5 lakh. I am considering buying a CNG or an LPG-powered car. The options in mind are the Tata Indica Xeta, Hyundai Santro CNG and Chevrolet Spark LPG. My concerns are space, rear seat comfort and long term reliability. I have some doubts about the the long term effects of LPG/CNG on the car’s engine. I am aware there will be power lag, but is there anything else that I should worry about? Is it better to buy petrol+LPG/CNG or diesel?

Sarath Nibhanupudi, Hyderabad

The benefits of owning an LPG/CNG car are the savings in terms of economy, though in the long run the wear and tear is a bit on the higher side, especially with respect to engine internals. Also, in case you do have to drive in petrol mode, fuel economy tends to drop. There is also the additional weight and boot space lost to the LPG/CNG tank, as further downsides. So if you plan to use the car for a period of over five years or more, we suggest you stick to a petrol vehicle; CNG/LPG can work out best for a period less than that. In that case, consider the Tata Indica Xeta, which has the best interior space and good ride quality and comfort.

Simple pleasures

We are looking to purchase a hatchback with a budget of up to Rs 5 lakh. Our daily usage will be a maximum of 30 kilometres with the occasional long drive. The car will be used in the city and outskirts. We have shortlisted the Maruti Suzuki Swift, Ford Figo, Chevrolet Beat, Maruti Suzuki Wagon R and Hyundai Santro Xing. Please suggest the best car considering fuel economy, maintenance cost and comfort.

Abhijit, Pune

For your kind of use, a petrol car should do fine and we suggest the Maruti Suzuki Swift. It has a nice 1.2-litre motor that is fuel efficient and has good performance too. It is quite refined and maintenance costs won't burn a hole in your pocket. Maruti has, in recent years, also improved the overall ride quality of the Swift, which makes it quite comfortable over bad roads. It doesn’t have the best legroom of the lot here (for that the Maruti Suzuki Ritz is a better bet), but as an overall value package the Swift will suit you best.

Soft touch

I belong to a middle class family and I want to buy a small car. My budget is Rs 3 to 4 lakh. There are three members in my family, including my father, mother and myself. My father is suffering from lung cancer and for him I need a car that is comfortable, and is easy to maintain. Which car would you suggest?

Seema, New Delhi

We suggest you look at the new Maruti Suzuki Wagon R. It is more comfortable than before, the seats are better designed, getting in and out is very easy especially for older people and there is more space on the inside. The engine is efficient and the cost of maintenance shouldn't be much. Look at the LXi version with power steering which should make driving around town much easier.