I am planning to buy a hatchback in the range of Rs 4 to 4.50 lakh and I have shortlisted the Tata Indica Vista and the recently launched Ford Figo. Which will be the best choice in terms of performance, after-sales service and value for money? My usage is approximately 150 km per week and 700-km long trips about twice a year. I am unable to decide; please advise.
Balaji Vandavasi, via email
Both the cars you have shortlisted wear compelling price tags. So in that sense both offer you great value-for-money propositions. In terms of performance, the Figo is the better car here — the petrol engine is quite peppy while the car’s dynamics in terms of ride and handling are sorted. As regards after-sales service, both Ford and Tata should offer similar comfort levels. Though it is an even match between the Figo and the Vista, we would recommend the Ford as it is a better car to drive.
I would like to choose between the Fiat Punto and the Volkswagen Polo diesel versions. I have done all my research on the two cars but am still confused. I am a Fiat buff and like the ride quality and handling of the Punto. But I realise that the Polo is overall a better car and it’s also very good in the ride and handling department. Both cars according to me are somewhat weak in the engine performance front, so I thought I could bolster it by putting in one of those performance tuning chips. What do you recommend?
Ashish Thakur, Mumbai
The Polo is the better driver’s car here — we would say its ride and handling characteristics are a notch better than the Punto’s. While the output figures are more or less similar for both cars, the Polo has a three-cylinder engine vis-à-vis the Fiat’s four-cylinder unit. That makes it a little noisy and vibey, but the VW’s better build quality helps matters here. For you, we recommend the Polo and for sure, the car can take on an additional 15 to 20 bhp quite easily. So if you do want to chip it, check if the manufacturer’s warranty will hold before going ahead with it. Else wait for a year or so before you enhance its output
I own a 2008 Honda City ZX with a manual gearbox. It has clocked 35,000 km. Although my father and I enjoy driving this car, my father who suffers from knee and ankle pain, finds the clutch too hard and finds it even harder to operate in dense traffic. I suggested the idea of buying the new Maruti Suzuki SX4 with the VVT engine and automatic gearbox. We have test-driven the car several times and we liked it. However, we are still undecided between these options:
1. Retaining the City and replacing the clutch set so that the pain my father faces will vanish for a few years.
2. Buying the new SX4 automatic.
Although the SX4 is loaded and offers a lot of value, it is simply not as nimble to drive in city traffic as the City is. The steering is very tight and the car feels heavy. The interior plastics too don’t match up to the quality of my current car. Another thing that worries me is the fuel efficiency of the SX4 AT and its performance on the highway as it is equipped only with a 4-speed box. We are confused and not able to make up our minds. Please advise.
Vignesh Giridharan, via email
Replacing the clutch set of your City can only be a temporary solution. An automatic gearbox makes the most sense for you. If you still are not convinced about the SX4 automatic despite having evaluated it several times over, why don’t you try out the new City automatic. It is a very good all-rounder and should suit your needs well. The other option could be to retain your existing City ZX and supplement it with a new hatchback with an automatic gearbox, like the Hyundai i10 or i20, for the urban driving cycle.
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