Maruti Suzuki Swift – Ownership Review

"Swift Facelift"

Maruti Suzuki has been quite a successful company that left a huge impression in the hearts of millions upon millions of Indians. Their cars have been used by generations and the credibility of the company remains unchanged. With the dawn of the new era comes the need for change. Maruti in collaboration with Suzuki motors have brought new innovations and newer cars to the Indian market. The Swift from Maruti Suzuki has been the leading hatchback for well over a decade and has easily taken over plenty of challengers. The sales figure of the Swift remains on top of the chart every time. There is definitely something about the Maruti Swift that makes it so popular.

The all-new Swift received a few upgrades and came out with the name Face-lift. Albeit several options to choose from, Swift always remained my favorite option. In terms of practicality, the brand and the vehicle has a very different respect. It is desired by plenty of buyers and its service works out to be more economical over the other brands. These reasons were enough to please the impulsiveness within J. Here is my take on the Maruti Suzuki Swift Face lift version that I bought recently. I chose the Fire Red color that seemed quite catchy, peppy and youthful. Maruti has also added a Mysterious Violet Color but that looks pretty much like a black swift.

"2015 Maruti Swift Facelift"
Maruti Swift Facelift 2015

Engine:

Maruti Suzuki cars offer classy mileage and with the launch of every new car, the mileage manages to put a smile on the buyers face. I chose the Petrol consuming Vxi model that enjoys a few top end features. Maruti Suzuki had tweaked the engine on the new facelift version to add to the efficiency.

 

"Maruti Swift Facelift Engine"
Maruti Swift Facelift Engine

The 1.2-litre K-Series mill (1148 cc engine) now produces 2.7 PS less power, thus is outputs 84.3 PS at 6000 RPM while the torque has increased by 1 Nm to 115 Nm at 4000 RPM. The compression ratio has been modified from 10.0:1 to 11.0:1 and this helps churn out a mileage of 20.4 kmpl. The car is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox that is quite comfortable to use.

"Swift Facelift"
Swift Facelift

 

Exteriors:

In terms of styling, nothing much has changed since the last Swift that rolled out before the Facelift version. That’s a little sad because competitors like Hyundai constantly keep updating the design languages of their hatchbacks. Sadly, Swift has been the same since the beginning.

"Maruti Swift Facelift Exteriors"
“Maruti Exteriors”

The New Facelift version has a new grille and bumper are new but again, it’s very similar to the old car while the fog light has silver accent next to them. The accents are available only with the vxi, zxi, vdi and zdi models. Apart from this, the exteriors remain fairly unchanged.

"Swift Facelift"
Swift Facelift Rear Side

 

"Swift Facelift"
Swift Facelift Side profile

 

Interiors:

The Swift definitely greets the driver since the driving pleasure of this car cannot be substituted. The seat fabric has been changed since the last model. (P.S. The seat covers cost me extra and do not come as a standard addition with the car) The Dashboard on this car has silver accents, including on the door and steering wheel while the equipment list has been lengthened to get on par with the competition.

"Swift Facelift"
Swift Facelift Interiors

The car comes with a new and interesting 60:40 split seat system that comes in handy when the luggage is a tad extra. The vehicle has new and adjustable headrests as well as rear-view mirrors. The Face-lift version also has electronic view mirror system or OVRM that is surely a great feature to have.

"Swift Facelift"
Swift Facelift Interiors

These electrically retracting rear-view mirrors on my V trim make it easy for me to adjust and fidget with the joystick. Getting on with the rear space, this car is a little disappointing because Maruti has not been very generous with the rear seating space on this car. It does feel a little claustrophobic especially for those who are a little tall. The Boot space is pretty much the same and lacks space. Carrying a lot of luggage is surely a challenge with this car.

"Swift Speakers"
Swift Facelift Door Speakers

The Audio system is by far the best I’ve ever seen in any other hatchback. The audio system on this car is married to 4 speakers placed on every door in the car. The Bass and overall acoustics are a mood changer. The vehicle has an Aux in and a USB port that play soothing music. There is also a CD player/changer. The new model has a removable Antenna and the Radio support on this vehicle is quite good. The V trims and the Z trims have Audio systems.

"Swift Facelift"
Swift Facelift OVRM

 

 

 

"Swift Facelift Bootspace"
Swift Facelift Bootspace

 

"Suzuki Swift Seat"
“Suzuki Swift Drivers seat”

 

Price: The Vxi model is available for Rs. 6.30 lakhs (On-road Price) which is quite aggressive a price I should say.

Service:

I am a big fan of Maruti’s service network. Although i stay in a hill station, there are 2 Maruti service stations in the vicinity. Maruti offers 3 free services after purchasing the car. The First service is due after a month or 1000 kms. The second service is due after 5k kilometers or 6 months. And the Third Service is post 10k kms. The average price of servicing my car comes to around Rs. 2000/-. Compared to others, this is quite a decent amount and it’s quite justified.

Bottom Line: Of course the new Facelift has a few flaws (which car doesn’t?). The rear seating space and the boot space is definitely a turn off. However, I was amused by the split seats, driving is always fun and I cannot miss out on the mileage part too. That said, the music makes my day too 🙂

Hope you find this article interesting? Please feel free to drop in your feedbacks and suggestions.

Toyota Etios Ownership Review

Future concept cars

It started off with a lot of tyro level research into the famous sedans offered in India. The battle is no longer about the price; in fact the spryness counts more than the Gandhi’s you offer. So started the rumination process of getting a new car.

The rifeness of Maruti is suffused all across India. But the year was 2012 and there weren’t any interesting models that attracted my attention. After various pretexts in order to elicit information came the name Etios. Surely enough Toyota has been prudent with its vehicles and service, but was the Toyota Etios really a great choice?

After loitering around the Toyota showroom and getting to know the Etios better, the car seemed a better choice than the usual Maruti addition in the garage. After several months, and numerous lists, Etios was the only name that was left on my list.

There was a bit of speculation about the diesel model over the petrol one. The Diesel model was pretty good to drive and the Silent yet powerful Japanese technology managed to create awe. But since we were more in favor of the Petrol model, we bought the Etios V.

After shooting out a million questions and inquiring about the Toyota Etios, the showroom people had shown a lot of interest. It is essential that you remain omniscient about the vehicle you get. It is always recommended that you get a Pre Delivery Inspection of your car. Once that was taken care of, the Car was delivered along with 2 keys and a wireless remote. The car has performed quite well and served my purpose really well till date.

Engine and Performance:

The Etios V is a mid range petrol sedan that is built with a lot of stability and power. A 1.5-liter petrol engine powers the car and produces 88.76 HP. The car also goes commando with a torque of 132 Nm. The Etios has an electronic fuel injection supply system which makes it quite a smooth sailor across the bumpy roads. The car has a double overhead clam shaft valve configuration along with 4-cylinders and 16 valves.

It is a 5-speed manual transmission sedan, which serves the family’s purpose quite well. I tried testing the car’s mileage performance too, sadly this is not as fuel efficient as the Maruti car but, it some how managed to give me a mileage of 9 kmpl in the city area (although the company claims that it should give me a mileage of 12-14, my car is always thirsty for petrol). I wouldn’t vouch completely on this but it has been my experience. I tried to put the pedal on the metal on a deserted road (to my surprise, the road had not even a single pot hole, may be because some politician lives close by :P)

The Etios took me from 0-100 in around 17 seconds. Although it can touch a 150 kmpl speed, I did not want to experiment that speed, considering the damages I would have to face at home 😀 Exteriors:

"Toyotal Etios V review" The Etios stands strong like nobody’s business and looks quite refreshing. Thanks to the new and refreshed radiator grille and the prominent Toyota logo. The vehicle has pretty neat looking headlights that dazzle the car’s front fascia. On the rear side of the Etios’ sturdy looking body is the radiant tail light that has turn indicators as well as courtesy lamp along with brake lamps.
"Toyota Etios V review" On the rear side, the company has left its insignia too. The Etios looks quite masculine and houses the right concoction of looks, elegance and appeal. At first glance, the Etios did look something different and it felt the same while driving. No matter how I spin this across, it completely depends upon your preference, mine lays with the Etios. Interiors and features: One reason I like the Etios over any other sedans that I had considered was its space. It easily fits in my family without having to worry about cramming up. The interior has decent fabric upholstery. Although it isn't the best, it feels comfortable on long drives. The boot space as well as the accommodation of the car is quite pleasing.
"Toyota Etios V Interior Space" My seat (driver) has height adjustment facility as well as a center armrest. What I like about the interiors is the dashboard placement. Its central placement has a spacious glove box along with an AC unit along with a music system. The music system is the right amount of disappointing, meaning that I would have to shell out a couple of grand’s on a better music system (what a rip off right?)
"Toyota Etios V Interior" There is an LCD fuel meter that features a digital clock along with a few informatics including a speedometer, tachometer and the digital trip meter. The music system houses a CD player along with FM radio support as well as USB connectivity. With a better music system and the right kind of subwoofers, the Etios would echo craziness.The electric power steering on the Etios makes driving simple. Owing to the heavy traffic and its perturbing conditions, the electric power steering helps a lot. The car has dual front airbags as well as the driver seatbelt notification system as a part of passenger safety (thankfully they have not popped out yet :D) the car also features key less entry, central locking as well as anti lock braking (the electronic brake’s force is equally distributed) and this makes it quite safe. My dad likes the advanced engine immobilizer device that safeguards the car and restricts unauthorized entry. Service: I get the car serviced once it touched 2000 Kilometers. I haven’t faced too many expenses. The car came with a 3 year or 1,00,000 km warranty along with 3 free services. The first service was done when the car had completed a month after getting the car, the car had not done 1000 kms then. The second service was done the succeeding year, although the car had touched 9400 kms then, the service was on the basis of duration. The Third service was done a few months earlier.  The services were supposedly free, then again a few negligible expenditures that were less than Rs. 3000 were incurred.
"Toyota Etios V side profile" Wrap up: I like the Etios for its safety features as well as the interior space of this car as opposed to competing cars in its category. What I dislike is the existing audio system that comes along with the car. A better audio system would have been spryer. Overall, this car is a great transition from my old Maruti Swift.

Mahindra Thar-ownership review

Mahindra Thar CRDe is a vehicle for adventures people who would like to explore. And I am sorry to say that it does not meet the needs for the other category of people. It is an affordable four wheel drive vehicle by the Indian middle class. I bought the vehicle in Sep 2013 since then it has completed 14500 km. Back then the vehicle had come with an on road price tag of Rs8,30,000.

Exterior design

The beauty of the car is indescribable. It is an admirable piece of architecture. The suv looks pretty much as its predecessor the mm540 DP, there is nothing much changed in terms of exterior design, apart from broad tyres. The car can be customized as desired by the owner, and you can keep doing it as long as you run out of money, because there are a lot many custom parts available in the market to meet your taste. Buying the vehicle is only a small part, customizing it is the major challenge. When you open the doors of the vehicle you get the same sound like in the old jeeps, and I am happy that Mahindra has made it a point to keep it in the present model.

Mahidra Thar front view

Undesirable Interiors

The Thar CRDE has the same dashboard as the Bolero, which is a bit disappointing as people would like something different for a vehicle that looks so appealing from the outside. The vehicle comes with air conditioning and heater as standard. The Thar looks very outdated from the inside. To feel like you are in the 21th century, you have to customize your interiors as well.

The dashboard is made of poor quality plastic and it has a very bad finish quality. The air blower cannot be adjusted for the flow of air to the driver and the co-driver, it is a major setback in the vehicle. It has no electric windows, no cigarette lighter, and it has no indication when the doors are opened, and it has no indication for the seat belt. The steering cannot be adjusted. To say it in one word its “rubbish” on the inside. It is a very bad impression for Mahindra. Jeep is a vehicle that owns a great reputation all around the world, and it’s not very pleasant to see Mahindra destroying it.

The rubber is out of place in the period of just six months.
The rubber is out of place in the period of just six months.
poor interior quality
poor interior quality

Driving experience

Good

The Thar has a 2400cc engine which has good torque and in no time you are into higher speeds as and when you press the accelerator. This attribute comes at the cost of greater fuel consumption. Overall the engine feels very refined and smooth. The braking characters are very good, the vehicle comes with front discs and rear drum brakes. If you would ask me what I like about the vehicle it would be the front end, because it has individual front double wishbone suspension which keeps the vehicle planted to the ground while off road. The vehicle has good off road ability, it handles any terrain with ease and it is gives you the that adventures feeling while you drive.

Bad

It handles very well at high speeds on the tarmac unless you meet pot holes or obstacles on the road, because it goes uncontrollable when you come across obstacles. When you travel at speeds above 50 kph, you come across hearing the soft top battering, no matter how many speakers you install you just wont be able to hear your music. The rear suspension is a leaf spring suspension. It is not very comfortable for occupants while traveling on uneven surfaces or bumpy roads. When you come across bumps while traveling at descent speeds you feel as though there are many loose components.

As the vehicle has a powerful engine you end up getting very poor mileage. On the highway you might get around 12 to 13 kmpl if drive below 80kmph, in the city will get 8 to 9 kmpl. If you have money constrains this might worry you a lot.

Service

Mahindra does not  have the facility to service the Thar in most of its centers, you have to be prepared to go miles to service your vehicle if you would like to own one. I am not very satisfied with the quality of service that Mahindra offers. The only thing that is done is the replacement and toping up of fluids, the vehicle is not washed, in fact the service station where I service my car does not even have a hydraulic facility to wash the vehicle. As it has been free service so far I am not sure what might turn out to be the Maintenance cost.

Overall vehicle build quality

The material and the paint job is done brilliantly, but there are many small details that is not very pleasant to view. The door beading’s are not of good quality, and during rain, water seeps through the door beading’s. The window seals are not of good quality either. The car’s hood beading is also not good and it is not fitted properly.

My car had coolant leaking in the first 1000kms itself. The clutch pedal rubber had come off the pedal. The quality of material used is very poor, they tend to fail very often. Mahindra has not taken good care in building the vehicle, and not taken any efforts in testing it before it reaches the customer. This vehicle is not built as rugged as the mm540, and I can tell you that because we had owned one.

Mahindra Thar CRDE

Conclusion

This vehicle is not worth the price tag, since it has no competition I believe Mahindra is taking this car leniently. Producing cars of such low standards is a bad reputation for the company. I had already sent an email stating the problems but the company has not given any response so far. I would be happy if Mahindra considers customer feedback and rectifies the problems. For people who would like to buy the Thar I would suggest you take a detailed inspection, and if it meets your needs, you can go ahead in buying the vehicle.

SKODA FABIA 1.4 TDI PD – OWNERSHIP REVIEW

Skoda Fabia was launched in the Indian market in 2007. It is a lot roomier than its predecessor Skoda Felicia. Taking a sneak peek into the history, The Skoda Felicia was introduced in the United Kingdom in 1994 and was discontinued in 2001. After the great success of the Skoda Octavia in India, (Skoda Octavia was Skoda’s first car launched in India) Felicia wasn’t launched in the Indian market because it was a little obsolete then.

Now coming back to the Skoda Fabia, it was launched in India with two power-train variants- The 1.2 litre HTP (high torque performance) petrol engine and 1.4 litre TDI PD (Pumpe-Düse) diesel engine. It came in three variants – Ambiente, sport and elegance. Now let’s see how the 1.4 litre TDI PD diesel car serves the owner.

Skoda fabia ownership review  Fabia front Fabia interior.jpg IMG_8516

EXTERIOR

It is a five door sedan with the typical Skoda features. The larger and clearer integrated front grille gives the car the typical face of Skoda. The overall design of the car is modern yet not very sophisticated giving it the youthful, cheerful and fresh look which favoured the youngsters. When compared to the other competitive cars, the Skoda Fabia has a very impressive built quality.

Skoda has also used good quality paint for the Fabia which doesn’t degrade in time and you can be free of tension if you have a minor abrasion. The front headlamps that extend to the front wings provide the car with larger surface area of lighting which adds to safety and style as well. Now coming to the rear lights, they are built in such a way that they look sporty and make Fabia more visible in traffic during bad weather. The windows are larger than its predecessor making it look way larger and classy. The Fabia is 3992 mm longer and 1498 mm taller making it one of the largest cars among the premium hatches.

INTERIORS

The interiors of the Fabia is very roomy and offers a very impressive leg space and head space. It has a close connection with the Skoda roomster with respect to the design and built of the car. The interior designs are very eye pleasing and are very well made. Skoda has used high quality materials for its interiors which are very soft to touch. But some minute things put me down, for example the stereo system doesn’t have a remote and every time the rear passengers have to move forward in order to change a song, which I found very inconvenient. However I was very happy with the interiors of the car when I got in for the first time.

What I liked even more was the boot space. It surely has a boot space which is the best among all the premium hatches. When the seats are upright, a total of 300 litres of luggage can be taken, whereas when the rear seats are folded down, Fabia provides a boot space of 1,163 litres. The four spoke adjustable telescopic steering is very light to touch and easy to handle. The gear box too is very smooth. Now speaking about the seats of Fabia, they are easily adjustable to the drivers need, making the driving experience a very wonderful one. There are many storage spaces available in the Skoda Fabia (apart from the boot space) like the dash storage, bottle holders in the door, a bottle holder in the centre console and seat pockets on the rear side of the front seats.

ENGINE

The 1.4 litre TDI PD Engine gives an output of 51 Kilowatt at 4000rpm. It gives a decent torque of 155 Nm at 1600-2800 rpm. This vehicle is equipped with 3 cylinder engine of 1422 CC. Because the engine is 3 cylinders, city driving leaves me a little tedious, however highway driving is gratifying. The fuel efficiency of the vehicle is decent enough. It gives 18 km/litre in the highways and 16/litre in the city. The engine is smooth even at a speed of 160 kmph without any feel of vibration. Also, this TDI PD engine is a little noisy when compared to Skoda second generation CR engine which comes in the new Skoda fabia, which was launched in 2011.

SAFETY

The Skoda Fabia 1.4 litres TDI comes with good safety for its passengers like the ABS and front Airbags. Again I’m unhappy with the fact that The Skoda Fabia doesn’t have the side Airbags making its passenger’s safety at stake. But I don’t think it’s something that I should complain for because with this price that is 8 lakhs on road; Skoda Fabia offers enough features that score a 10 on 10 for its quality. The central locking system of the Fabia is something worth commenting. Unlike other vehicles, the central locking system of the Skoda Fabia doesn’t lock automatically when the engine is on. For example if a person turns the ignition switch on and go out of the car for some reason with the key inside, the car wouldn’t be automatically locked. I admit this is a big advantage for a careless user.

MAINTENANCE AND RESALE VALUE

Maintenance charges are on the high side and are done every 1 year or when the vehicle has reached a distance of 15,000 km, now because of this one year gap between services, the owner might forget to take care of the tyres. This can lead to premature wearing and tearing of tyres, so one should be vigilant and should know the condition of their vehicle. Now coming to the resale value, well the resale value of the Skoda Fabia is quite low because the spare parts of the vehicle are very costly.

BOTTOM LINE

With four years of ownership and 40,000 km travelled, my Skoda Fabia doesn’t seem to have aged much. On an overall, Skoda Fabia 1.4 litre TDI PD is a very classy and impressive car which has its own elegance and charm. Owning one does make you feel proud!

Mercedes Benz C220- Ownership Review

Mercedes Benz C220 CDI – Ownership review.

Mercedes Benz. The name itself pretty much says it all. They have been one of the leaders in luxury car making for many years and look to do the same in years to come.  When Mercedes Benz came to India back in 2002 they brought a car which at the time where so rare to see in India (keep in mind they were one of the first German manufacturers between BMW, Audi and themselves to start selling cars in India in the 21St century). The cars introduced then where years ahead in many if not every aspect to the cars available in India at the time. Nearly 12 years down the line I think it’s safe to say their cars are still some of the best. Their cars nowadays are brimming with the latest technological developments, high levels of luxury, and some head pinned to the head rest performance.

The C Class is Mercedes Benz’s Entry level luxury sedan. The competition in India mainly comes from BMW with the 3 series and Audi with the A4 (Volvo does have a pretty good car in this segment but sales aren’t like these 3). These are 3 very good cars in their own right. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses so it’s hard to pick between them. This particular C Class is going to be replaced soon with the latest version which is supposedly coming out sometime next year. The rumors are that the new one looks like a baby S-Class (which is a bit disappointing if I do say so). I always admired Mercedes Benz Cars because each car had its own character per say. Each Car from the A – Class to the S – class had its own persona, its own gorgeous looks but maybe that time is at an end. For now though we still do have this version of the C- Class on sale for with the resources to buy it. This particular C- Class is the C220 CDI. It’s the diesel variant of the car and starts at Rs 39.35lakh (Ex Showroom Delhi)

The C Class is something of a muscle man between the 3. With its muscular looks and powerful engine this car oozes with the go fast feeling but its one of the best cars to cruise on the highway with too! This particular car is now about 1 yr and a half old and has 22000 kms under its belt and it holds true to the saying that the German cars are built to last (there is also a saying that their built like tanks which shouldn’t be taken literally!). So now how is it like to own one?

Exterior Design, Quality & looks:

The Mercedes Benz CClass, is a car which tries infusing the best of both modern and classic. It has the sharp, aggressive line and looks but on closer inspection there is the blend of smooth lines throughout the car. The front end is something which can scare you at night if you find the car hurtling at you in your rear view. The angular and bold looks of the front can leave you admiring it for sometime without realizing.

As you move along the car the bold angular lines give way to more smooth curved shapes and lines. From almost just past the bonnet you can see the shape of the car changes to a more fluid shape all the way to the rear. The wheel design too blends in very well with the cars dimensions. The rear of the car isn’t as menacing as the front although with its dual fibre optic light strip in each tail light at night the car does look a bit futuristic. The overall shape and design of the rear though is different to that of the front. Its much smoother and curved and does catch your eye.

Exterior of the Mercedes Benz C220
Exterior of the C220

The overall build quality of the exterior is one of the best available in the Indian market today. It feels and looks well put together and like it will last for years to come and will be able to take a few hits as well. All in all this is car is very attractive to look at and has the quality to match its price.

Interior Design & Quality:

It’s now time to look at the part which makes a luxury car a luxury car. The Interior. This is the part of a car which almost every person will look at to decide whether the car is worth its asking price as well as its name. The interior of a car plays a vital role in making its occupants feel special and I can safely say that with this C- Class, Mercedes Benz haven’t held back. The moment you get into the car you can just feel the quality of the materials used is of a very high standard to make the occupants feel a class above. The seats are leather and electronically adjustable in every manner.

From the head rest to the thigh support – can be adjusted to make the occupants in the front as comfortable as possible. The front seats also come with a memory function which allows the occupant to save their preferred seating position in three slots and with just a press of a button the seat will automatically revert to the position saved in the slot. The rear seats aren’t so bad themselves. Although they aren’t adjustable like the front they are very supportive and comfortable to sit in and one can easily manage in these seats on long drives without any discomfort. One thing to note is that the rear legroom isn’t as good as other cars in this segment. The doors are wrapped in leather and high quality plastics and also do contain some brushed aluminium trim for the door handle.

Interiors of the Mercedes Benz C220
Interiors of the C220

The dash of the car combines the use of high quality plastics as well as brushed aluminium very well. The buttons on the dash feel very solid and clearly marked for their specific function. The Instrument cluster looks bit retro with its design but looks really good none the less. I l personally like the way they have supplied analogue dials for the engine temperature as well (previous cars didn’t have this). The instrument cluster screen contains the trip computer as well as settings to the car and also information of any malfunction on the car. Pages on the screen can be controlled using the steering controls. The dash also contains the screen for Mercedes Benz’s COMMAND system. The screen is very clear and has two different themes for day and night to allow for more comfortable reading at the specific time.

The system itself could have been a little more user friendly but over time you do get used to it. The system is controlled by a circular knob on the center arm rest just blow the gear lever. The positioning of the controller is near perfect as it falls just under the palm of the driver as he/she rests their arm on the arm rest. The center console of the Dash contains the audio controls, telephone/Bluetooth controls, climate control, as well as some of the luxury feature controls such as the back screen. This in my opinion makes the center console look a bit crowded, it’s not as simple and elegant as in its rivals and is one aspect where Mercedes Benz could improve on.

There is however one feature where the C- Class has a hand above the rest of the competition. The PANORAMIC sunroof.  This is basically an almost all glass roof (there is a support which runs from left to right in between the front and back seats on the roof). This support contains the mechanisms which draw the sunroof curtains as well as the front sunroof back. This feature in my mind is the closest thing you can get to a convertible without having to shell out as much for the actual. With the curtains drawn the sunroof allows even the rear passengers to gaze out at the sky however when the front section is drawn out it covers the rear glass obstructing the view.  But still this is one thing which really allows all the occupants to enjoy their drive and considering it’s the only car in its class to have this makes you feel pretty special.

Engine & Driving Dynamics:

Now one thing Mercedes Benz is most known for is their powerful engines. The C- Class is no different.  When compared to its rivals this car has the most powerful engine of the lot. Even the least powerful diesel engine is more powerful than the other cars in its segment. The C220 CDI is powered by a 2.0 liter Turbocharged 4 cylinder diesel motor. It kicks out 170bhp between 3000 – 4200 RPM (Yes, you read that right it develops Max power over a band of RPM and not just at a specific RPM) and when it comes to torque is gives out a near sport car territory 400NM between 1400 – 2800 RPM. All this power and torque is fed through Mercedes Benz’s 7-G Tronic Gearbox and put down on the road through the rear wheels.

The engine in this car is one of the reasons we decide to go for it over it other competitors. It even made us pick the C220 over the C250 CDI which has a more powerful engine due to its shear efficiency in delivering both max power and max torque through nearly the whole Rev band! There isn’t much turbo lag to deal with. Almost as soon as u put your foot down you get the feeling of being pushed into your seats. In fact you don’t need to put your foot all the way down. There’s so much torque to play with you would almost never get tired of it. Be it in the city or on the highway overtaking is a breeze in this car.

The Powerful Diesel Engine - Mercedes Benz C220
The Powerful Diesel Engine under the hood!

One more thing which makes this one of the most unique diesel engines I’ve come across is the sound. On start up and between idle and about 2500 RPM this engine does sound like a diesel engine but move past 2700 RPM and all that changes. The engine sort of almost starts to roar like a petrol engine would. The first time I experienced this, it captivated me and over time grown to love it. The one place where the car could be a little better is the gearbox. It is one of the best for the city.

The changes are smooth and the gearbox almost sort of knows what gear you need & when. But take the car to the highway and gearbox starts to show signs of weakness. Its slow to down shift a gear (if you need) when you overtake which at times if you’re not careful can put you in a bit of a tight spot. However Mercedes Benz has provided a solution if your brave enough to use it. At the bottom of the lettering of gear lever you will be able to find a button with E and S written with arrows pointing either way. This is the mode selector. It allows you to navigate between Economy Mode and Sport Mode for the car. Put it in Sport and the car transforms. The throttle and brake response both sharpen and the car holds Revs longer enabling the car to be in its peak at all times. But for the most time you wouldn’t want to use this mode as fuel efficiency then drops massively.

The steering is one of the best there is. It’s a parametric steering system which is fitted to most Mercedes cars nowadays. The system adjusts the weighting of the steering according to the speed of the car. In the city at low speeds the steering is light to make turning easy and on the highway it’s beautifully weighted to allow the driver to know exactly where the wheels are pointing. Add to this the precision of the steering and you have something you can’t but appreciate to have. The suspension of the car uses Mercedes Benz’s Agility Control system but the overall state of tune is a bit too stiff. This can make things a bit uncomfortable if you’re driving on a pothole ridden road. The feel of the brake pedal and the stopping power of the brakes themselves are also very good.

After Sales & Service:

After Sales communication from the Mercedes representatives is good. So is their service quality. But one place which is one of the biggest problems in owning a car like this is the spare costs. This is one thing which can burn a very deep hole in your pocket. So be very mindful that you not only have the money to buy it but to maintain it as well.

Points For Improvement In The C220:

–          The central console is to cluttered with buttons. Hopefully Mercedes Benz goes for a more simple approach in the next car.

–          The gearbox is sublime in the city but could be better on the highway.

–          Spare Costs are very high and scare people away from buying the car.

–          Suspension is a bit too stiff for Indian Roads although on the highway this lends to brilliant road holding.

Bottom Line:

At the end of the day if I had the choice of this car and its rivals I would still pick this one. More than anything else this car connects with the driver. From the moment you get in everything thing about the experience is there to make your life as a driver so much easier but at the same time so much more enjoyable. I’ve never after driving this car come out with anything less than a smile on my face and in my opinion that’s what cars should do.

Maruti Suzuki Esteem – the Glorious Path

It is considered as one of the first sedans which was introduced in the Indian market, and considered as the Indian-Benz! Yes its Maruti Suzuki Esteem, one of the finest and the best seller for Maruti ever. I still remember when I was 6-7 years old, I rarely found this car on roads and was owned by financially sound people, but when I was 12 this car become a paparazzi as it was shown in several Indian cinemas and was soon getting replaced with Ambassador cars.

Maruti Esteem is the First full-fledged A/C car which I ever known. This car easily has 15-16 years of glorious history before it becoming out of fashion( not to mention, it is one of the most iconic cars which I’ve ever seen ). In this article lets get to know some aspects of this car which made it a champion and some reasons for it’s down fall.

Maruti Suzuki esteem

 

History:

The Esteem was first introduced in the first half of 1995. It’s the first attempt of Suzuki in compact segment and Suzuki has chosen Europe for it. At that time this car faced the toughest rivals in the market such as Golf which was built by none other than Volkswagen, Opel’s Astra, Nissan’s Sentra, and Toyota’s Corolla. That’s a huge competition as these companies have already dug their root into the European market. Suzuki introduced this car in that year as a 3-door hatchback and 4-door sedan, the 3-door is powered by 1.3- Liter and while 4-door is powered by 1.6-Liter engine. But this model got appreciation first and then gradually sales dropped. Hence Suzuki restyled Esteem in 1999 with new enhancements.

The car was given a new front end, and a new redesigned grille and new headlights and the 1.6 engine was replaced with a 1.8. With these changes Esteem indeed became like a sports model. It gained a huge success and started rising in the European market and after seeing this success Suzuki planned to launch it in Asian countries ( as after Europe,  the Asian market had a bit of a boom then) and thus Suzuki launched Esteem in India. In order to manufacture Esteem in India Suzuki collaborated with Maruti ( and rest is history )

Downfall:

Maruti in collaboration with Suzuki released Esteem in 1994 and sales sky-rocketed all over India and was considered as the best seller in 1995 and 1996. Maruti gained huge reputation with this car. Since then this car ruled the Indian automobile market for at least 10-11 years until late 2006. In 2006 the penetration of companies like Honda, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Jeep and Gypsy begun and the competition became tougher than ever. Most young people opted to new offerings from Jeep and Gypsy. This was one of the reasons for esteem’s downfall. With the raise of tough competition, Maruti Suzuki itself had planned for a new release and it released the new Maruti ZEN automatic in to the market and that’s how esteem’s glory shattered and in the year 2008 Maruti finally stopped manufacturing Esteem.

Technical-specifications:

The specifications of this car look very good. We have to consider that it is an old car and at the time of its release technology was still in research stage. But it has some features which looks amazing still now. They are its Interiors and its performance

Maruti Esteem specs

Interiors:

The interiors of this car still look amazing and it is the best part of the car. The molded floor along with trunk carpets were good and the best parts of the interiors was its seats( a friend who still has this car, also stated the same ). The seats look comfortable and it suits for long drives. The cabin of this car can accommodate a total of 5 members comfortably. The dash board which is coated with black leather work and power steering is quite good it has all the basic features such as air conditioner, cabin heater, remote fuel lid opener, remote trunk opener, coat hanger hook etc. The dash board looked perfect. Power windows, Child lock controls and OVRM’S on both sides of the doors added more reliability to this car. The front seats are adjustable for good driving. The boot space is big and is about 376-litres, which can accommodate many of our needs during traveling.

Maruti Esteem interiors

Exteriors:

The car looked real classy from every angle. The car measured 4095mm (length), 1575mm (width), 1395mm (height) with a wheelbase of 2365mm and ground clearance of 170mm. Fog lamp with clear lens, body colored door handles and rear spoilers added all the more beauty to this car. The car was made available in 6 colors such as superior white, metallic pearl silver, metallic silky silver, metallic icy blue, metallic fawn mist and metallic midnight black.

Maruti Suzuki Esteem exteriors

Engine, Performance, and Handling:

This car is powered with a four cylinder 1298 cc petrol engine with SOHC. It can produce a maximum power of 85 bhp at 6000 rpm and the maximum torque is 110 Nm at 4500 rpm. The car is controlled using a manual five speed gear box which also has one gear for reversing the car. Its fuel tank capacity was 40-litres and the average mileage of this car was around 10 km/litre within the city and around 16 km/litre on the highway. The handling of this car was also quite good as the car is accommodated with the McPherson struts and coil springs and when it comes to the breaking system, the front of the car is accommodated with disk and the back is drum.

Safety:

This car has the basic safety features such as

  • laminated windshields
  • central locking system
  • Kenwood defogger
  • Collapsible steering columns
  • Child-Lock safety
  • Side impact absorbers
  • Good suspension system

Price and Resale Value:

The car manufacturing was stopped by Maruti in the year 2008. The resale value of this car is also quite descent. If the car is in good condition the price for resale will reach up to 80,000 to a maximum of 1 Lakh. If it is in bad condition it can give you around 20 to 30 thousand!

Gujarat To Rajasthan – A D’ZIRABLE travelogue !

Jaunty companions, 2400+ kilometers and my trust on wheels, the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire Vdi. Well, that was the prelude to an exciting journey of skillful driving and exploration.

Date: 23 July 2014- 31st July 2014

Distance:  Approx 2400 kilometers

Starting Point: Ahmedabad (GJ)

Ending Point: Although my journeys don’t have any ending, this journey was to Jodhpur and back (covering all possible towns in and around Rajasthan)

It had always been a part of my bucket list to go on a road trip from Gujarat to Rajasthan (my ancestral place) and when I had the opportunity, I couldn’t resist. My bags were packed and my mind was ready to soak in the experience. Here is my trip advisor or travelogue

Kem Cho, Gujarat(India)

23rd July 2014 (3.30 pm) Ahmedabad greeted me quite well even during the afternoon (surprisingly my expectation was put down by the pleasant climate) with a slight drizzle and of course a positive sign to keep cruising. I’ve got to say, Gujarat has very smooth roads. They feel like stroking a baby’s cheek.

Introducing to you, a companion (rented out for 8 days) that would be put to test through challenging and smooth roads to check the reliability and stability. The Swift DzireVdi 2008 Model (Silver)

Swift DzireVdi 2008 travelogue
Shimmering in Silver.

I was sure enough that Ahmedabad isn’t going to let me get away that easy, especially with an empty stomach. You could just bask in the delicious flavors and the mouth watering delights Gujarati food has to offer.

I couldn’t resist, and before getting the taste of the Gujju roads, I did a little “Tummy Puja” 😛

After a scrumptious Sneck (the way Gujarati’s pronounce it J) it was time to decide if I wanted to move on or spend the night in Gujarat. Time was definitely of the essence. Covering an average of 250-300 kms a day isn’t a walk in the park. And with the clock ticking faster than the accelerator, I had to put a pedal on the metal. But, leaving in the evening wasn’t the best of ideas and so I decided to stay back and enjoy my evening in Ahmedabad. If you are visiting Gujarat anytime soon, I would definitely recommend Kathiwadi Food, its just too tempting to say no to.

Travelogue Gujarat  Ahmedabad
Ain’t the road a Beauty?

Although the roads are impeccable, the ones using them make their own lanes whenever, wherever. Left was right, right was a u turn and all the roads led to some place I did not want to be (it wasn’t too bad though)

Travelogue Gujarat  Ahmadabad traffic
Traffic on a Normal Day. Sigh!!

 

The Journey:

The rains had worked their miracle on the swift the previous night. I did not really have the time to saunter over and so, post breakfast; it was a start to an amazing trip. To elaborate my 8-day journey that started from the 24th of July and went on till the 31st July,the diesel tank was full and the roads seemed welcoming, and that’s when my Journey began. I would like to mull over a few facts about the transition in the roads of Gujarat and Rajasthan, India. Both the states have intermingling roads and you might notice that while your tyres might caress a few roads in Gujarat, Rajasthan would make your tyres hate you 😛  (I am not trying to endorse Gujarat roads. A few roads in Gujarat are equally bad too)

Swift Dzire Vdi travelogue

Gujarat

While in Gujarat (High way included) you are certain to witness the culture bustling around in all corners.

For instance:

Living in a place where rickshaws are a source of traveling, this was a more exciting and an innovative concept. The bullet rickshaw (named Chagda) is quite popular among the locals in Gujarat. This is definitely worth traveling in.

Travelogue Chagdi :)
Chagda 🙂

 

Travelogue - Fully Loaded ;)
Fully Loaded 😉

Oh yeah ! The good ol’ Tractor. We might have come across our favorite celebs ride a tractor across a field. But, this was certainly more rejoicing than seeing anything on screen.
Travelogue Tractor

Gujarat and Rajasthani roads have a deep connection of some kind with our four legged friends. Looks like a few of them enjoy taking sunbath on the busy streets of both the cities. The irony lies in the confidence that these mammals have, no vehicle can ever make them move unless the mammal really wants to 😛

Travelogue animals on road

While my journey that was going on pretty smooth, the only hindrance was either the Toll Booth (Gujarat and Rajasthan have plenty of toll booths) or Gas stations.

Puns apart, my journey had started off on a very bright note, with clear skies and smooth roads, rains did manage to cope up with me and they managed their way in occasionally.

Khamma Ghani – Rajasthan

Travelogue - Toll booth Rajasthan

You know when you are in Rajasthan when you come across “DesiDaru” Shops J Gujarat apparently adheres to strict norms when it comes to alcohol. Jokes apart, Rajasthan was partially humid and the service of my car’s A/C was of urgent priority.

Travelogue Rajasthan humid

It did not seem like Rajasthan was going to experience torrential rains. However, while entering Jodhpur, my presumption was wrong. The roads in Jodhpur were flooded with water. Although, the sight was quite eye pleasing, it did seem a bit concerning too. With no proper water drainage channels, puddles were being formed, making it very difficult for various two wheelers and a few hatchback cars to cross.

Travelogue Jodhpur roads with rain

July Might not seem like the best of times during the year to visit Rajasthan, But then again what’s life if you live it by the rules right? 😉

Covering up places like Pali, Phalodi, Jaisalmer, and experiencing the Joy of Mount Abu, Driving to Rajasthan was worth the miles.

The Experience:

While leaving for Rajasthan, Ahmedabad had a very different approach as opposed to Rajasthan. Driving conditions were quite variable. One moment you are on the highway and there is no sign of traffic and rains and the next moment, all you have is a lot of traffic and your vehicle literally floating on the road.

Travelogue Rajathan roads

My return journey from Jodhpur had pretty much given me an indication of the road conditions ahead. While I was nearing Gujarat, I had to take a detour from Mehsana owing to the worsening climate condition.

Travelogue Gujarat  climate

Ahmedabad was around 30 Kms away, and unbelievably it took me around 5 hours to reach Ahmedabad. You can pretty much see the road conditions in the pics that we managed to click.

Thankfully, the skill of driving in such conditions came in handy. Dzire was definitely supportive and did not give up on me during these few hours of turmoil. Although, I have to say, water somehow found its way into the car and our feet were getting the taste of the murky rain water that was conveniently stagnant across the entire street.

Travelogue Gujarat  Ahmedabad

The thrill of driving in such conditions definitely adds a page to my memorabilia. It felt like we were on a Boat trip (well without the paddles, fishing rods and such)

DZIRE Connection:

The Swift DzireVdi comes with a 1248 cc  Multijet DDis/DOHC diesel engine, producing 190 Nm of torque @ 2000 RPM.

It gave me 15 kmpl mileage on the highway (with A/C) and on the busy streets.

I definitely felt the 75 PS power when the vehicle was tested on the highway.

Being spacious enough for 5 people (we were just 3) the Dzire’s Trunk had no problem accommodating our luggage too.

The BridgeStone 14” Tires worked their miracles on the roads. Even after crossing the 120kmph speed at the highway, the Dzire wouldn’t wobble, it was quite smooth.

The only drawback that I feel about the Dzire is the identical look it shares with Swift and the ground clearance (170mm)

Summing Up My Trip:

Travelogue Gujarat  to Rajasthan
Actual View @ Mount Abu.. Worth the Visit!!

After surviving such road and weather conditions, taking us a step closer to fear. The Swift Dzire Vdi has certainly connected Gujarat and Rajasthan like never before. The rains had caused a little hindrance and I couldn’t cover up a few places during the end. But, having said that, the journey was indeed a special one. I am waiting and planning my next big trip soon.

Wanna Join?

The Owner’s Guide To YAMAHA YZF R15

Lets start with a bit of recent History.

Back in the year 2011, when young Indians (by age and at heart) had just started getting tired of the old YZF R15, Yamaha released yet another bombshell, the subsequent successor to the older R15, the YZF R15 Version 2.0. And boy did it live up-to its mark, rather it actually was way better than anyone had ever expected it to be. The way it looked was a class apart. The ergonomics were different, or simply said, better. This motorcycle pretty much managed to outshine any of the competitions – any it may have had in the Indian market back then. It looked meaner, faster and way advanced than its predecessor in every way. Even though the front looked pretty much the same, Yamaha had completely refurbished the side cowls and pretty much everything else.

The new split seats gave it a way sportier look along with the LED tail lamps, wider tires, specially the rear one which had been replaced with 130/70 R17 compared to the thinner 100/80 that the earlier ones were provided with. The new lighter aluminum swing-arm was a great addition to the motorcycle along with the elevated exhaust outlet. The more aggressive seating position was meant to give you the feel of an all round sports motorcycle. It was every adrenaline junkie’s wildest dream back then.

YZF R15 Invincible Black

So Anyway….

Today I’ll be telling you all about owning the YZF R15 Version 2 and I’ll let you into a couple of insider secrets too. On one fine evening in the month of July in 2013, after a lot of research and survey I had finally set my mind on the fact that I wanted to upgrade to the new YZF R15 (Invincible Black). Me being a passionate rider, who has always cared about the adrenaline rush rather than the comfort, have never quite regretted that decision since then. I’ve rode it for 7761 kilometers since then and I could say that I have enjoyed each and every kilometer of it. Simply put, it’s a mad man’s apprentice.

It’s unbelievably quick, it has the looks to kill for, it’s pretty fuel efficient and it can go almost anywhere. It has the same engine and torque specifications as the earlier version which I also used to own, the same 149.8 cc. engine that produces 16.8 Bhp of raw power that is more than enough to blow a sane person’s mind away. It also has the same output figures as the older one and can go upto almost 147 kmph if it’s in the right hands.

Starting off at the looks, well, it has the looks which can even make your first crush go gaga over it and make your best friend jealous of you. I never liked the black side cowl so I colored them a bright orange which people seemed to like instantly.

Technical Review:

The dual headlights don’t seem to work as good as they look though. Personally speaking, they could have been brighter and you might face problems if you’re riding at night specially in highways where there is almost no light whatsoever. Same goes for the seat – If you’re looking for comfort with a pillion in the back, you’ll have to shake that dream off. The motorcycle can be a real pain if you’ve got a pillion behind you specially if he/she is a bit on the heavier side. The acceleration seems to drastically lower if you’ve got someone heavy on the backseat. Plus the hard backseat can be a pain in the arse (literally).

But riding alone is a breeze, I’d actually say that this motorcycle is supposed to be ridden alone if you want to savor what lies within all that expensive bodywork. This bike will give you the feeling of going fast, where you’re riding at 40kmph or 140kmph if you know how to ride it properly. Though if you want to wade through traffic, it’s wide body can be a problem and the motorcycle tends to heat up if you’ve been using the wet multiplate clutch constantly for prolonged periods of time. The open chain seems to attract a lot of dirt and gravels always. I try to clean it from time to time since it effects performance noticeably if there’s too much dirt or mud on it which tends to be such a hectic process since there is no double stand. I’ve always used Motul Chain Lubricant but I don’t think other brands would be bad either.
Engine Maintenance:

If we’re talking about engine oils I’d say the factory assigned Yamaha Lube should be best but, me, I use Valvoline 4 Stroke Motorcycle Oil, but that’s just me. It just gives the motorcycle a crisp feel which can be pretty addictive. But I used Motul 3000 4T plus earlier on the version one and it worked like a charm too. The air filter hasn’t needed to be changed yet and has been running perfectly normal for the past year. The engine oil filter which seems really costly at around 145 bucks a pop also needs replacement with every subsequent oil change which I’ve done every 800 kilometers or so. The spark plugs are also running nice and smooth though I feel that after 10,000 kilometers a change might just be necessary. Keeping atleast half a tank of gas is also recommended. These things kept in mind, I’d say, for an average rider, it’ll provide a mileage of about 28 kmpl in city roads and about 40 kmpl plus on the open highways. That’s about all you need to know about maintaining a YZF R15 Version 2 I believe.

Strictly as an Enthusiastic Owner:

I know it might not be the most comfortable ride ever, or the most pocket friendly ride of all times but you have to keep this in mind that the reason behind buying this bike was neither one of those, it was about the fun, thrill, looks and border-lining that you’ve always dreamt of, and this bike seems to be performing more than good at those. The wider tires give you so much more confidence while going into a corner at high speeds. I’ve done a lot of highway riding on it and I don’t think there is a single complaint I might have. The latest front Telescopic suspension and rear Linked type Mono-cross suspension is such a comfort whilst riding within cities and on the highway. The 6-speed gearbox can make highway riding as smooth as it gets. There will probably be no moment during a ride when you might be asking it for anything more than it’s already doing.

The YZF R15 is the classic story of The Beauty and The Beast except the fact that here, both have combined into this screamer of a motorcycle.

If you have any comments please let me know -or- please click the SHARE button below and help us spread the word 🙂 Thanks !

MARUTI SUZUKI SWIFT DZIRE– Ownership Review

MARUTI  SUZUKI SWIFT DZIRE LXI (2009) – Ownership Review

When Maruti Suzuki first introduced the Maruti Swift in May 2005 it brought along a new refreshing look to the Indian hatchback market. As the Swift saw more and more success, Maruti Suzuki decided to take things one step further. This brought about the introduction of the Swift Dzire. The Swift Dzire is a sedan version of the popular Swift hatchback and was brought about to replace the ageing Maruti Esteem, a car which had an amazing track record to its name. The question lingering at the time of launch was, how far better would the new car be? Whatever questions that where present about the car where eventually answered with the cars launch on the March of 2008. The introduction of the car brought something new to the Indian market.

A car which had decent levels of comfort along with good fuel efficient engines was a recipe bound to succeed and yes it did. So now let’s take a look at how the car serves the owner . With 47000 km travelled and about 5 years of ownership, the car is still a very capable machine and still very much has a lot of life in it (most cars would be in the same shape provided routine maintenance and service is carried out on it).

Exterior Design and looks:

The cars design is very much based on its smaller sibling the Swift hatchback. It has the same shaped headlights and tail-lights which flow with the body’s lines and seem like they seamlessly fit into the body curves. The added boot at the back does seem flow with the rest of the body but with the added boot the car’s stance does seem to have changed a bit when compared to the swift. From the back this car isn’t the best to look at ( although from the front the looks are much better ). The wheels are tiny 14-inch rims with 165/80 section tires. Both the rim and tire size where aptly selected to go well with the exterior of the car as well provide good comfort inside.

Swift Dezire LXI ownership review

Now when it comes to quality of the exterior of the MARUTI SWIFT Dzire, this is where it has a few shortcomings. Overall the bodywork doesn’t feel all that solidly put together. The metalwork feels like it can be dented very easily which it has done a couple of times (a small nudge from an auto caused the door outer panel to get dented inwards). Replacing the door panel wasn’t all that hard or expensive (hats off to Maruti Suzuki for providing such good service quality) but I think that goes to show what quality materials are used in the car. Otherwise the exterior of the car has held up very well over the years and the paint hasn’t faded much over time and still shines very well in the sunlight (For your Info the car is washed and cleaned at least twice a week & this helps in keeping the paint in good condition).

 

Interior Design and Quality:

The interior of the MARUTI SWIFT Dzire LXI is very basic. All you get in terms of features is air conditioning and power steering along with a very basic instrument cluster as well. There is NO Tachometer/RPM gauge, so information provided by the car to the driver is very limited. There is also no power windows and music system so be prepared to use your arm for the windows and have some very quite drives if you are alone (you can obviously get these installed separately on request by Maruti Suzuki or elsewhere!).

The interior itself is a simple grey plastic interior which is a little dull to look at. In all fairness this is a very cheap car to buy (around Rs 5 lakh on road), so not a lot can be expected from it to begin with. The plastic itself is very is not very nice to touch on the dash and on the doors. However the plastic used on the dash feels much more solid than the one used on the doors (give a little push and the door panel will bend inwards which gives a very unnerving feeling again about the quality of materials used). Even the plastic used for the air conditioning vents feels very flimsy. The stalks for the wind-shield wiper and headlights feel a little flimsy but are simple to use and don’t give any trouble.

Interior  of Swift Dezire LXI

The seats of the MARUTI SWIFT Dzire are made with fabric. Both the front and rear seats provide good levels of comfort. The overall driving position is a bit high, giving a good outside view for the driver ( for tall people it is a bit too high ). The MARUTI SWIFT desire can accommodate 5 people although the person sitting in the middle at the back row may feel a bit cramped. Legroom is decent at the back but that also depends on how tall the people sitting at the front are. A relatively tall person sitting in front would defiantly reduce the space behind.

Technical Specs & Driving Dynamics:

Maruti Suzuki Dzire LXi comes with a 1.2 liter, 4 cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine. This engine is a part of Maruti Suzuki K series engines. The engine puts out 85 ps (about 83 bhp) of power at 6000RPM and 113Nm of torque at 4500RPM. The engine is mated to a five speed manual gearbox. Through the years the engine has been quite reliable as are most Maruti Suzuki engines. The engines state of tune is best suited for city use. The throttle response is good and there is a decent amount of low end torque which allows easy overtaking in city traffic conditions. The gearbox itself is fun to use. It has a nice mechanical feel which gives the driver an idea of what’s going on and is very smooth & easy to slot into any gear. The engine itself is very silent and there isn’t much vibration which gets through to the cabin.

The ride of the Dzire is defiantly made to make sure its passengers feel comfortable. The suspension at both the front and rear is quite soft which contributes to quite a bit of body roll in the cornering. This along with the skinny tires doesn’t reassure the driver a lot especially at high speeds. For this reason I up sized to 185/70 section R14 tires for better stability although fuel efficiency did take a bit of a hit (with the 165/80 tires city mileage was about 12-13kmpl). The steering to is made for city use. Its lightly weighted which makes life easy when taking u turns and the turning radius is small too.

Running Costs:

Fuel efficiency is something Maruti Suzuki takes into account very seriously and this car performs quite well in the city. I get about 11-12kmpl with smooth driving and on the highways about 15 km/pl.

Service and after sales:

Service of the Dzire by Maruti Suzuki is of a good standard. Most of the spare parts are readily available at the service center and come at cheap rates compared to other companies. The car service doesn’t take too long and I’ve always informed of any repairs that have to be done or being carried out.

Shortcomings of the Swift Dzire LXI

–          The quality of the body work and the interior plastics is a bit low compared to others cars available at the price. Also the interior look is dull and doesn’t look very elegant.

–          The car is made for Indian cities so if your daily life takes you along highways and covers long distances look at another car.

–          The driving controls such as the steering and the brakes lack feel and don’t give much feedback.

–          The engine although brilliant in the city, lacks punch in the top end and combined with tall gearing makes life difficult on highways.

 Bottom Line:

Maruti Swift Dzire without doubt is a car made for Indian cities. Everything about it makes sure it’s occupants feel comfortable when battling the heavy traffic of modern Indian cities and there aren’t many other cars which give you the same value for money as this one!

VOLKSWAGEN POLO- OWNERSHIP REVIEW

In India one of the most popular types of cars are the Hatchback’s. A small sized car which can fit 5 people, fuel efficient and relatively economical to buy. Anywhere you look in an Indian city & you will for sure find a Hatchback. For years now Maruti Suzuki has ruled the Hatchback segment with a variety of cars for sale in this segment but in recent years they have come to face a lot of competition from other manufacturers. One of them is the mighty Volkswagen !

When Volkswagen introduced the Volkswagen Polo back in 2010 to the Indian market, the car came as a refreshing modern addition to the hatchback segment which seemed to be ageing a bit back then. The car was aggressively styled, spacious, had lots of modern technology fitted in, and was a lot sportier in terms of rid and handling than most of its competitors ( thanks to its stiff suspension ). But there was one part of the hatchback segment which seemed to be an unexplored territory in India.

The Hot Hatch

A hot Hatch is a sort of a hooligan version of the civilized hatchbacks many people use in their everyday lives. They look almost the same (few cosmetic changes are made at times to better performance) or exactly the same to the cars they are based on but aren’t the same under the hood. Around the world, the Hot Hatch range of horsepower is quite wide. They go from 120hp up to 250bhp. But in India this isn’t the case. Back in 2010 if someone wanted a hot hatch in India there wasn’t much choice to go for. There is the Punto sport ( 90HP) but many people (including this cars owner) looked away from fiat due to its poor after sales quality, interior quality, and service problems such as lack of spares.  One more reason for the lack of interest in this segment is that in India people do tend to lean toward to fuel efficiency and cutting down running costs rather than having a car that can make you smile wide as u depress your right foot. Volkswagen decided to give this category a shot with the Polo 1.6. Although VW has stopped production of this car in India (due to it not being able to become the hit they thought it would be, their current entry in this segment is the Polo TSI) it still remains a very appealing car to those petrol heads around town.

This specific Polo 1.6 belongs to a good friend of mine and he was very kind enough to allow me to drive it and do this review on it. He bought the car in April 2011 and has done about 14000kms on it and every time I see him drive it there never seems to be nothing but a smile on his face (there was one on my face too, when I drove it!) What makes this car appealing u might ask? Well let’s take a look at it in a bit more detail.

Exterior Design and looks:

The Volkswagen polo is a car which was designed keeping in mind the modern world. Most car manufacturers are designing their hatchback keeping the youth in mind (considering that nowadays hatchbacks are the cars which most people in their youths go for because of their pricing and value for money). The Volkswagen polo is one car which oozes modern design philosophy. Its aggressive styling and sharp lines are very striking and attractive to look and the same principle is followed all along the car.

Volkswagen polo ownwership review
The aggressive styling of the front make it very appealing to the modern generation.

The car’s front end is what is the most striking and distinctive to look at! The whole flow of aggressive and bold lines along the car starts from here. The uniquely styled headlights and bumper give the car a menacing look (at night there is no question on which car is behind you when you see those set of headlights). Although this car is styled in this manner, there is still a certain amount of fluidity in the whole overall shape of the car.

Due to the lack of a proper boot, the nice looking sharp lines come to a somewhat of an abrupt end. However Volkswagen has done its best to make the rear of this car as good as the front (tried & in my opinion the front looks very much better than the rear). The 15” alloy wheels look good too and suite the cars design very well.

Volkswagen polo ownership review
The bold lines flow right along the car.

When it comes the build quality of the car there is no doubt of the supremacy the German manufacturer holds in this area. The exterior feels very solid and very well put together. The quality of the body work Is very good and the finish as well. This is one area I feel Volkswagen has the edge over other cars in its segment although there are a few which run close with it – one being the Fiat Punto and the Honda Brio.

Interiors Design & Quality:

Take a look inside and the polo follows the same standards it does on the outside. The interior of the car feels very solid and the materials used are of quite a good quality. The Instrument cluster makes use of modern technology with a digital display which gives the driver information about fuel quantity and data from the trip computer such as fuel consumption average, real time consumption, range, and speed. The display itself is very clear and easy to read. There have been complaints that at night, especially on the highway the screen is a bit too bright and hampers visibility a bit but the owner of this car said he didn’t find the display disturbing at night and I too didn’t find it very disturbing while on the highway.So I guess we will leave this up to personal opinion.

Volkswagen polo interiors - ownership review
The solid and good looking interiors of the polo 1.6

The Center console is simple and functional in its design. It isn’t cluttered with buttons and the controls are simple and easy to use. The touch and feel of the controls too is solid as with whole of the car. However when it comes to comforts, the Polo 1.6 isn’t as well equipped as one would want. There is no climate control all thought the air conditioning is powerful and cools the car well. The music system doesn’t have AUX or Bluetooth capabilities but the speakers are powerful and clear lending to a more pleasurable drive.

The seats on the Polo 1.6 are comfortable and supportive to be in. The driver seat is height adjustable and the steering can be adjusted in rake and reach but the reach is limited to only 3-4 inches. The interior also comes in a nice dual tone beige and black color scheme. But all in all there is nothing to complain about with this interior, its solidly built and will last long into the cars life.

Engine & Driving Dynamics:

Now we come to the part which really sets this car apart from the others in its segment. The Engine!  The car is powered by a naturally aspirated 1.6L four cylinder engine which churns out 103bhp @ 5250 RPM and 153NM of torque @3750 RPM. In India these number are usually reserved for the mid-size sedan segment (By looking at these numbers itself anyone would come to think that this car is no slouch). It doesn’t let your expectations down. Initially it does take a bit to get going, but as the RPM needle crosses 1500 – 2000 RPM it comes alive and you suddenly find your body a little further away from the steering wheel if you weren’t leaning back into your seat already. Lean in to the throttle further and the engine just pulls all the way through up to the red line. This sensation of being pressed in your seat is also accompanied by a deep roar from the engine bay. However while idling I found that there is a minute lag in throttle response.

This hunk of an engine is mated to a Five-speed manual gearbox. The gearbox itself is slick and slots into gear very easily making changing gears a peach. But it lacks that mechanical feel and on a side note to engage reverse you have to push the gear leaver down and then push it into the direction of first gear. The gear ratios are more suited to city driving. On the highway due to the lack of low end torque you do need to downshift a gear to overtake but else this can take you up to some serious speeds which could get you into some serious trouble!

One place the Volkswagen polo seems to be different from the rest is its suspension tune. Whether you like It or not is up to personal opinion. Some people like having stiff suspension as it contributes to better handling characteristics and less body role during cornering and then there are the people who like to have a softer state of tune so that all the bumps and potholes are soaked up. Well, from day one the Volkswagen polo has been criticized a bit for having too harsh and stiff a ride, but I don’t mind it. For me it’s not that harsh it does a decent job of dealing with our constantly dug up and pothole ridden road (there are cars which deal with the roads much better e.g. Hyundai i20, but then again it can’t match up to the way this car takes the bends). The car feels planted at highway speeds and give the diver more confidence in driving the car. The steering is light which is perfect in the city but for highway driving a bit more weight would have been a lot better. The steering is a bit dull in feedback which is nice if u don’t want the steering constantly moving around to every bump and pothole forcing the tires to move, but if u prefer a steering with feedback then you might not fancy this one ( This is due to it being an electronic power steering rather than hydraulic).

All in all this is a nice car to drive. With its powerful engine and its good handling and road holding you find yourself wanting to spend more and more time with it and drive it on a nice highway till its tanks are empty (suggest you don’t though).

 Service & After Sales:

When it comes to VW’s service the owner said that delivery and availability of parts weren’t an issue with Volkswagen polo. However he did mention that if he had any specific technical complaint the ability of the VW’s mechanics to troubleshoot and isolate the problem wasn’t good enough. He once found himself complaining about the same problem twice. Each time the representatives said they found the issue and fixed it but the problem lingered. Only on the third attempt was the problem actually resolved.

Where The Volkswagen polo 1.6 isn’t up to mark:

–         The initial throttle response is a bit slow.

–         There isn’t as much low-end torque as expected for a petrol engine, so for overtaking (especially in a fully loaded car) on highways you do have to down shift a gear to get the engine to its peak torque output.

–         For people who like riding in comfort this is not a car for you in terms of ride quality. You do feel the bumps and potholes in the car due to its stiff suspension.

–         The car isn’t packed with as many features as it competitors like the Hyundai i20, Fiat Punto, and the Honda Brio.

Bottom Line:

This car was definitely a hot hatch for the Indian market (I say it because VW has stopped production of this car in India). It was most definitely an appealing car to look at and drive and would get your adrenaline pumping when you want it too. But if any company including Volkswagen wants to bring out a true hot hatch and contend seriously, then I think they should take things a step further (Maybe more powerful engines and better handling).