I never liked Cheetah name for XUV5OO. The most prominent feature of Cheetah is its agility which, a massive car like XUV can never demonstrate. Well, if marketing and branding people liked the idea and got paid good salary for that, who am I to question them. So, XUV5OO is Cheetah and Maruti Alto is elephant.
My current car, Eon Era+ is more than 3 years old and loan for it got completed some 4 months back. Desire to upgrade from Eon was always there however, the question on what to upgrade to and when to upgrade ever existed in front of me. This resulted for me to go out in the market hunting for my next ride. There were few things thrown at me as a condition:
- Car has to be a big, meaning a 7 seater, getting more will be good. My wife is always in for big cars, she doesn't care how they look, but to her Sumo, Balero, Winger are good cars - we can roam with our entire family together. Now 80% of the time, it is only her, me and our baby in our car for additional 18% time, we'll get either my parents or her mother, which can happily fit into a specious sedan or compact SUVs, just for those 2% of the time, we need a bigger car to accommodate more people. 7 seater need is to cater to just that 2%. Well, there was no point putting any logic to all and I agreed to this.
- Car has to look good both exteriors and interiors - boxy look and age old interiors are sure let down for me.
- Budget of less than 10L - that's all my pocket could afford.
- Existing car needs to be exchanged or sold - to give me cash.
- Upgrade to happen by Aug - I am in no hurry. Selling existing car, approving loan, finalizing new car - all this was expected to take time.
Indian market isn't rich with tonnes of options anyway. I started with below list of cars and my opinion about them: (based on reviews, features and videos, before any TD)
- Ertiga -
- Positives: found it to be very practical and well established car. Is light on pocket and has decent features with it. Petrol VXI was costing around 8L on road and that was perfect for me. Bit of modifications here and there, and I would get a great car ready for me. Has a very car like feel, good mileage and good for city driving. I was never going to bother much with this car in parking. has a decent boot space as well and with 3rd row removed, u do get good space on offer.
- Negatives : It was still a small-ish city car. If you stand next to it - you won't feel it is a big 7 seater car. Space wasn't a problem but lack of split seats in 3rd row was big problem. Very regular, run-of-the-mill Maruti design. While interiors had beige problem, exterior never gave me a wow feeling. I may be partial, but I found Eon to have better looking exteriors than Ertiga. but overall, there was nothing to say I didn't like the car. it was short-listed.
- Positives : It was Honda and it was spacious. Very car like again. Good practical 7 seater car.
- Negatives :This list is big - It looked horrible for a 7 seater (peronal taste). Hardly has any road-presence, quality of material used and assembly standards are pathetic - the gaps are so wide that you can put your finger through them. Very tin-like feeling - it seemed that if you close the door a bit strongly, it might cause a dent in it. I dropped it without any consideration.
- Scorpio :
- Positives : New Scorpio looks good. Is spacious and within budget. Sturdy and proven vehicle.
- Negatives : Interiors are not impressive. Base model is very basic. Top model is too expensive. May not be a great vehicle to drive in city. And my new car is to be driven in city 80% of the time.
- Tata Aria
- Positive : Its big, spacious, its within budget, @camchennai already bought one. Good road presence and I wont have servicing issues.
- Negatives : Not impressed with the look - hardly seen Aria's on the streets anyway. Seems to be a flop vehicle from Tata. Tata have built a great reputation as commercial vehicles, they still need to improve a lot to be in private owners area. Buying experience from Cammy was pathetic anyway and I didn't like it anyway.
- Positives : Very special car. Good sturdy mileage friendly engine. Known to clock few lac kms easily, true people mover vehicle. May end up doing great business in taxi market.
- Negatives : Boxy look and pathetic interiors. Period. Never impressed me enough. If I had to choose between Ertiga and Lodgy, I might have picked Ertiga any given day. Overall, I found it to be a great fit for taxi market.
- Safari Storme - Very much same as Aria plus add tonnes of body roll with it.
- Positives : I simply loved the look of the car. It felt to be my dream machine. Interiors are stunning - exteriors looked even better. Spacious - amazing road presence, people reported good mileage, came with diesel by default. I kept dreaming about this 2.2L mHawk / 140 BHP monster for quite a few days
- Negatives : Above my budget, cheapest W4 came with on-road price of 13.5L. Can't change the music system. Tonnes of features gone from base model. No 2nd row sliding.
I basically had two shortlists - Ertiga for its all-round capability and XUV - just because of its heart-melting looks. Other options were Scorpio and Lodgy and may be Aria.
The first thing I did was to pay a visit to Zulaikha Motors in Velachery on 9th May to see the XUV in flesh. The visit and my experience deserves another post.