Which Car? April 2010 - I


I’ll be moving back to Mumbai very soon. I was very seriously looking at a couple of cars to make the daily drudgery of the commute a little more comfortable, and hopefully enjoyable. This will be the first car that I’ll be buying (mostly) on my own so I want your advice on a couple of things:
1. Do SUVs offer more comfort/ride quality for backseat passengers vis-a-vis sedans, given that they are considerably bigger ? This was the main reason I was considering SUVs like the Chevrolet Captiva and Honda CR-V.
2. What do you reckon is the pecking order between the Skoda Laura, Chevrolet Cruze and Volkswagen Jetta? And I’ll throw in the Fiat Linea into the mix as well.
My requirement is a car that is fun to drive and comfortable at the rear if someone else were to drive. I believe that the Cruze is a younger, snazzier version of the Optra and is quite a head-turner as far as looks go. The Cruze’s gadgetry is a big help too — so I’m a little biased towards its VCDi 2.0 model. After reading your last post on the Jetta versus the Cruze, it seems that you favour the six-speed automatic transmission. So how does the Cruze compare with the other cars in the mix?   Srinivas Radhakrishnan, Hong Kong

1. An SUV need not be as comfortable as a sedan, especially at the rear. That said, the CR-V is a great machine to drive while the back seat ride is not that bad either. The Captiva gives you more value for money and looks good, but its ride quality is not as good as the Honda’s. We recommend that you stick to a car if you're going to be piloted inside Mumbai.

2. Among the cars that you have shortlisted, both the Laura and the Jetta offer excellent ride comfort for the rear passengers. However, the diesel versions of both the VW Group cars are quite overwhelmed by the sheer performance that the Cruze’s motor offers. Besides the Cruze is the best amongst these three when it comes to value-for-money, looks and features. Okay, the rear legroom and ride comfort is not as good as the other two, but it’s not bad either. You won’t go wrong in opting for a Cruze, all things considered, including the ownership experience and costs. Go for the automatic as it makes the car much more driveable than the manual and will take the burden off your commute when you drive it yourself.

Hatch Match

I’m planning to buy a hatchback and have zeroed in on the Hyundai i20 and the Volkswagen Polo Highline. I am a bit confused in making the final choice. I would like to know your views on both these cars. G Krishna, Mumbai

The Polo is a good self-driven car — it provides adequate performance and the dynamic aspects of the car, in terms of ride and handling, are excellent. The i20 however offers you better choice in terms of engine/gearbox combinations (1.2 and 1.4 petrol automatic plus diesel) as well as trim levels. It offers a bit more space at the back for the rear passengers, though the boot of the Polo is more capacious. Both cars are of good quality and are well built. Go for the Polo if you enjoy driving!


Swift Decision

I am going to buy my first car. The Maruti Suzuki Swift has always appealed to me, be its sporty looks, a fuel efficient engine and Maruti's excellent service. But the recently launched Ford Figo has left me confused. Please help me in making a decision. C K Vinod, Delhi

Yes, the Swift is a proven car and what you have mentioned is true. However, the Swift is almost five years old now – wouldn’t you like to try a new car instead? The Figo is also good in most aspects and Ford is serious about getting their after-sales service right with this car. And it is a good car to drive too, though not as effervescent as the Swift. But do give the Figo a try.

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