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Which car? September Edition 3

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Hill climb

I am presently driving a Honda City and want to upgrade. My budget is a maximum of Rs 16 lakh. I test drove the Skoda Laura Elegance, Toyota Corolla Altis, Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze and VW Jetta and I shortlisted the Laura and Jetta. What’s your advice? We live in Dehradun, where our local running is approximately 30 km, but we definitely need a big sedan for our trips to Delhi and so on. My brother-in-law has recently bought a Laura Ambient and he is extremely happy with it.

The Laura gives a rich feel, is spacious and very secure. The only drawback is that it’s an old car. The Jetta is relatively new in India and has more gadgets, but is not as big as the Laura space-wise. Recently I was in Prague and most of the vehicles running there were from the Skoda stable. I seek your valuable advice, since I plan to buy the car as soon as the ‘Shraads’ get over and maybe I can get some better deals from Skoda/Volkswagen.



Rajeev Nangia, Dehradun

Both the Skoda Laura and Volkswagen Jetta are based on the same platform, so space on the inside is more or less the same. The comfort levels are not too different either. We would however suggest the Skoda Laura for you. The 2.0 TDI is now a common rail unit that is powerful and frugal. The hatch is useful, especially on long trips, to store luggage. Skoda have spruced up the interiors a bit last year and the ride quality is better than the Jetta. A new Jetta is expected in the first quarter of 2011, while the Laura will be around for a couple of years. All of this tells you why we are tending towards the Skoda Laura.

Alto-istic

I have booked a Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 VXi and am going to get the car very soon. This is my first car and I don’t know much about the car. I just booked the car only because of the reliability of Maruti. My daily usage will be 10 km and on a rare occasion a long tour. How about the comfort and mileage? Am I correct in my choice?

S Kandasamy, via email

Fret not, the Maruti Suzuki Alto K10 is quite the car for you. As a first car, the Alto K10 is quite easy to drive, has peppy performance and is very easy to maneouvre and park. Moreover, it’s efficient too, delivering about 15 kpl in the city-highway combined cycle. It isn’t the most comfortable car in its class and is a bit cramped for four people and luggage, though with most of your driving limited to the city, we don’t think it should be too much of a problem. Rest easy, you have made a good choice.

Here and Thar

I travel 40 km every day; almost half my drive is on paved roads and the other half on semi-paved or unpaved roads. Most of these roads are water-logged in the rainy season and heavily fogged in the winter. I’m looking for a solid 4x4 vehicle that can be used in rough conditions. The Maruti Gypsy is outdated and flimsy. As my farm is in Bharat (and not in India), cars such as the Ford Endeavour or Toyota Fortuner lack a dealership presence and repairs/spares can be expensive. In addition, the paint jobs on these cars cannot survive trails with thick brush and thorny shrubs. Should I wait for the Maruti Suzuki Jimny or Mahindra Thar? These two companies have wide presence, availability of spares, and the prices would also be affordable — I do not expect any vehicle (except a Hummer) to age well after 3-4 years in the conditions I will be driving in.

Vikramaditya Rathore, via email

There is seriously limited choice for a proper 4x4 under Rs 10 lakh. You have rightly pointed out that the Gypsy, though wonderful, doesn’t cut ice with modern day requirements. What you need is a rugged off-roader that provides comfort, and we think it’s only the Mahindra Thar that comes close. Based on Scorpio underpinnings and its drivetrain as well, the Thar is touted to be seriously capable. It will have some pretty rugged bits and given that it won’t have much in terms of body work, there’s less of a chance that twigs and thorns will scratch it.

Comfortable bucket seats and modern day creature comforts apart, the Thar is what a current day Mahindra Classic would have been. The Maruti Suzuki Jimny is quite some way from making its presence on Indian roads, so by default it is the Thar for you.

Any automotive questions? Ask us at bijoy.y@bsmail.in