Diesel, diesel is the keyword everywhere. It seems that the effect of rising fuel costs have persuaded even the Average Joe to jump towards the direction of diesel power plants. Forget it that he enjoys driving petrol cars or is a petrol buff. Forget the fact that other than going to church on Sundays, he would rarely take the car out for a brunch. All the time, it would be idling its time away in the building compound under some sheet or on the road caked with shit. Whatever it has to be, he needs a diesel car and a hatchback at that one. Remember, he lives in a congested area and looking back everytime he drives isn’t his cup of coffee. So a diesel hatchback is what he wants to buy and probably one which wouldn’t need a waiting period and also with decent equipment on list. With a budget of Rs 5.5 lakhs stretchable to Rs 6 lakhs, we have set out to help him find a car. Well, a diesel hatchback to be precise.
Think cheap and all locally made cars come into mind. Here, the Tata Indica eV2 is the cheapest diesel power plant on offer. However, Average Joe doesn’t want to be labeled as a taxi driver and hence he would prefer to ignore this option, irrespective of the price to space proposition. So, this plan is dropped. Next comes the 2011 Tata Vista. This car has got new looks in its kitty plus decent equipment list. Not to mention the huge space inside the cabin. The car’s diesel engine is a proven one and so is the Fiat donated gearbox. Joe is impressed by the space quotient but the general fit and finish don’t find favor with him. Remember he has a tall order with him and a comparatively shoe string budget to contend with. The starting price of the Vista diesel is Rs 4.2 lakhs. Yes, he will keep it as an open option.
Chevrolet Beat diesel would also feature in his list; however, he isn’t too keen on having this car since its low on the space quotient. Did we forget to mention that Average Joe is 6 feet 4 inches tall and would sometimes be seated in the back seat? He is amused by the fuel efficiency of the Beat diesel plus it’s got lot of features and futuristic looks to contend with. Nope, he still isn’t too much inclined towards the Rs 4.3 lakhs price tag either. So the Beat gets a beating from Average Joe’s hands.
Maruti Swift diesel. Nah! He is interested in this car since a long time, however, he isn’t ready to put down his money and wait for a year long to get his hands on his car. He is also not much impressed by the brakes of the car. This he feels is a bit panicky thing. Talks of Maruti workers sabotaging the diesel cars leaving the factory are also doing rounds and Joe is scared to take any chances. The Swift diesel also doesn’t boast of a good price point that he can consider. Hence the Swift diesel is thrown out of the window as well. He did comment that he liked the driving spirit of the car and the fact that the turbo spool up is now a lot linear.
Hyundai i20 was the next contender and he found this to be a very practical car to be. It has got lots of features plus nice materials with good interior space. Moreover, the ride and handling package was a neutral thing for him especially since he had a Santro with him for a fairly long time. However, the price of this thing was out of his budget and even though his mind was set on this thing, he couldn’t dare break his bank balance. The looks of this car also went down well with him.
Average Joe, when at the Maruti show room, also took at the Maruti Ritz. Though the rear part of this hatch didn’t quite impress him, his wife took a liking to the interiors of the car. Moreover, the features list was impressive, however, after having taken a dekho at the i20, everything paled in comparison. But the practical nature of the Ritz appealed to her. Its frugality as expressed by other owners of Ritz in the show room also made Average Joe to pay heed to his better half’s pleas. However, the 2 months waiting period seemed to get the better of him and he started looking elsewhere.
Ford was one company that he didn’t want to actually be a customer of but then the rave reviews that the diesel Figo was generating was something which even Average Joe couldn’t resist. Its practical nature plus inoffensive looks made sure that he was totally inclined towards it. Moreover, it was totally in its budget. While he was thinking of the lower end, even the top end version was something which fit into his budget very easily. He almost gave the booking amount of the car but then restrained himself as he wanted to have a look at some other diesel models available in his price range.
Toyota Liva diesel, the newly launched version got him going with the prospect of owning the “T” brand. The interiors seemed just about okay with the quality of materials used. The diesel power plant’s fuss-free nature also ensured that traversing in city was totally a relaxing thing. Brakes were also fantastic and he didn’t have to take a look at the safety features since he was assured of the Toyota quality. Like the Figo, he was ready to put down his money on this one but then the human tendency of wanting more made him look elsewhere.
We did refer him to Nissan and what with their Micra diesel ruling the roost in the southern parts of the country. His wife immediately took a liking for the cute design and infact test drove it herself. The circular theme inside the cabin also was to the couple’s liking. However, the lack of ABS even on the top end version was something which the couple couldn’t digest. Nissan’s service centers were as sparse as finding a water hole in a desert. The fuel efficiency is also very good as compared to some of its competition. The asking price seemed a bit too much as well when compared with the competition. But the Finance Minister’s words were something which he couldn’t ignore and hence had the Micra in mind as well.
Fiat Punto. This name was suggested by our team to Average Joe. However, based on our coaxing, wifey and him went to a Fiat show room. The design caught their flair. The interiors features made them go wow but then the lack of leg room at the rear was a real dampener. Plus the power delivered from the same 1.3 liter diesel mill wasn’t too impressive for them. The 90 Hp model got a smile on their face though. But horror stories of Fiat aftersales made them move away without even considering the fact that the Punto is available only 15 days after it is ordered.
Skoda Fabia hatchback made them go wow with its looks and interiors. This one was definitely roomy plus a German at that. The drive experience was little underwhelming what with the power plant failing to impress them much. But its efficiency as displayed in the MID was real good. Add to it the positive gearshift pattern and the couple were real excited about owning this premium German brand car. But as was the case with the Punto, Skoda aftersales made them look elsewhere.
Volkswagen Polo, the Skoda Fabia’s cousin was also in contention but interior space at the rear and the same service center issues as Skoda made them put up a crinkled nose towards the direction of this car. Also, the general attitude that the VW show room had about it was also not very convincing.
So, which one was it finally for Average Joe? Hold your breath, it was the Liva diesel that won their joint vote. The much practical Figo and Ritz were the best contenders for them but the T badge finally won over the other two. It a month’s wait but Average Joe is non plussed about it.