Car buyers guide in the Rs 10-20 lakhs bracket

It’s been some time since we have done any inroads into the Car Buyers Guide. With too many entries crowding the Rs 10-20 lakhs segment its but natural that all the action would pertain to this segment. Within the last 6 months, approximately 4 cars have been launched in this segment and this is discounting the SUVs. What we have done today is just list out the pros and cons of the available models in this segment and list out the prices of the same as well. The prices mentioned are ex-show room, Mumbai.

Skoda Laura TDI :

The second generation Laura has been around in India since two years and is doing extremely well. Infact, it is the so called bread winner for the Skoda family here, outselling even its smaller brethren, the Octavia and also the Fabia. Price range for this one starts from Rs 13.43 lakhs and goes upto Rs 17.57 lakhs for the top end model.

Skoda Laura TDI

Positives:

  1. European looks which have stood the test of time
  2. Great interiors and features
  3. Perfect engine and gearbox combination
  4. Solid build quality plus snob value
  5. Good handling and ride quality
  6. Choice of 3 engine options and two gearbox options as well with dual clutch transmission thrown in.

Negatives:

  1. The price tag may put off some
  2. Skoda dealerships and their service centers
  3. Expensive cost of spares

Renault Fluence :

The Fluence is Renault’s hopes of making it big in the Indian market. The Fluence has got a no-nonsense looks part to it plus the solid hue that the buyers in this segment look out for. The price range is between Rs 12.33 lakhs to Rs 15.44 lakhs.

Renault Fluence

Positives:

  1. European looks which are quite grown-up
  2. Availability of petrol and diesel engines with auto and manual boxes respectively
  3. Features list in the petrol variant
  4. Ride quality is good plus a neutral handling in both the petrol and diesel variants.
  5. Enough of space inside the cabin to give rivals some heartburn.

Negatives:

  1. Renault’s image in India
  2. Renault service centers
  3. Relative cost of spares still unknown
  4. Omission of features in the diesel variant
  5. Both auto and manual should be offered for both the engine options

Hyundai Sonata Transform:

This car has been relatively forgotten, especially with the launch of more modern looking rivals. Recent cars from the Hyundai stable themselves look far better than the Sonata Transform. The price range is between Rs 15.33 lakhs to Rs 17.80 lakhs.

Positives:

  1. A very comfortable car with lots of space
  2. Hyundai’s wide dealer network
  3. Availability of both petrol and diesel engines with manual and auto transmission
  4. Ride quality is good

Negatives:

  1. Lack of features
  2. Engine and transmission combo is not that exceptional
  3. Handling is soggy
  4. Is lost out in the crowd with Europeans dominating the board now.

Skoda Laura vRS:

The image that the vRS badge brings along with it is reason enough for many to throng the Skoda show rooms. There was disappointment when many came to know that there is not much of difference between the regular Laura TSI and the vRS. The price is Rs 15.20 lakhs.

Skoda Laura vRS

Positives:

  1. European looks which have stood the test of time
  2. Great interiors and features, especially with the dark vRS badging on the steering wheel
  3. Perfect engine and gearbox combination
  4. Good handling and ride quality

Negatives:

  1. Everyone was expecting a power increment
  2. A diesel vRS would have been very good for the fuel conscious
  3. Cannot be called as a true vRS
  4. No availability of 17 inch wheels
  5. Skoda service centers and their horror stories
  6. Price tag- at this price point, an increment in power is definitely expected

Volkswagen Jetta:

The 2011 Jetta was launched just a month back and it competes with its sister, the Laura in this segment. The talks about the US version of the Jetta being down on quality of the materials used and other stuff has definitely cut a wrong image of this car here in India. Price range is between Rs 14.12 lakhs to Rs 18.3 lakhs.

Volkswagen Jetta

Positives:

  1. Solid build quality
  2. Decent ride quality as also handling
  3. Comfortable car to be in
  4. Choice of DSG gearbox and a 140 Bhp diesel engine

Negatives:

  1. Lacks in features compared to its rivals. Things like climate control shouldn’t have been omitted on such an expensive car when even the Maruti Swift offers it.
  2. Looks same as the Vento.
  3. Dual Clutch offered only on top end model.
  4. No TSI motor as of now.
  5. VW’s service stories are the same as Skoda plus the arrogance and apathy of their dealers.

Chevrolet Cruze:

The Chevrolet Cruze is one car which turned around GM’s fortunes for the good. It has got the killer looks and other things which make it a darling in this segment. The price range is between Rs 12.51 lakhs to Rs 15.03 lakhs.

Chevrolet Cruze

Positives:

  1. Killer looks with scope for modifications.
  2. Choice of both manual and auto transmission.
  3. Powerful diesel engine which is now more fun to drive.
  4. Features being offered at this price point.
  5. Decent ride and handling.
  6. Chevy service centers and their warranty package.

Negatives:

  1. Lack of space for taller passengers in the rear.
  2. No petrol engine.
  3. Some of the plastics feel sub par at this price point.
  4. Auto transmission doesn’t like to be rushed.

Honda Civic:

The Civic has been a runaway success from the time it was launched. Moreover, being a Honda means bullet proof reliability for this car. The price range is between Rs 12.83 lakhs to Rs 15.8 lakhs.

Honda Civic

Positives:

  1. The looks of this car still turn heads around.
  2. The interiors are something which none of its competitors still have to match.
  3. Nice engine and transmission combo which would bring a smile to the face of the driver.
  4. Automatic transmission also offered.
  5. Comfortable seating for 5 passengers.
  6. Good handling.
  7. Honda badge and aftersales service.

Negatives:

  1. The ride quality is not upto the mark.
  2. Low ground clearance is an issue on Indian roads.
  3. No diesel engine on offer.
  4. Doesn’t feel as solidly put as its German rivals.
  5. Pricey for what it offers.

Maruti Kizashi:

Many would still want to have a double check on the name and others would still be wary as to why this car made this list. Plus there are very few cars on the road as of now. The price range is between Rs 17.12 lakhs to Rs 18.15 lakhs.

Maruti Kizashi

Positives:

  1. The Kizashi has good looks plus a futuristic design on its side.
  2. The engine is one of the most powerful in this class.
  3. Option of both auto and manual transmission.
  4. Features list is also good.
  5. Good seats with capacity for only 4.
  6. Maruti service centers are dime a dozen in India.
  7. Maintenance would relatively be on the lower side of things.

Negatives:

  1. Doesn’t really compete with any of the segments.
  2. Availability of the car.
  3. A tad over-priced for a Maruti.
  4. Available only with a petrol heart.
  5. In the interiors, there are some parts sharing with its less premium cousins.

Toyota Corolla Altis:

The T badge is very much revered across the world and in India its no different. A few months back, Toyota launched a refreshed 2011 model and not to mention, its one of the top sellers in its segment. The price range is between Rs 10.32 lakhs to Rs 14.33 lakhs.

Toyota Corolla Altis

Positives:

  1. The T badge.
  2. Plethora of features.
  3. Good all around space inside the cabin.
  4. Choice of both petrol and diesel engines along with manual and auto transmission.
  5. Toyota dealers and service centers.

Negatives:

  1. Not a driver’s car and also ride quality is a bit fidgety.
  2. The interior theme is shared with some other Toyotas.

Readers, please free to add your comments or additions to this list in the comments section below.

Skoda Laura vRS to be launched on August 31, 2011


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While there have been talks about a Skoda Laura vRs to be launched in India and several of the international blogs reporting what a stonker the machine is, it is finally made official that the Skoda Laura vRs would be coming to India on August 31st 2011. Seems like August is the month of car launches as India has already witnessed close to 5 launches and one unveiling. This Laura would be a stop gap arrangement before the all new Laura makes its debut later next year. The new vRS variant would have a new body kit complete with rear spoiler, side skirts and low profile tyres supported by chunky alloy wheels.

Skoda Laura vRS

In the interiors, this car would come with an all new steering wheel with the vRS logo and all leather upholstery. The vRS logo would be carried forward all across the car. However the dampener would be that India wouldn’t be getting the 2 liter turbocharged petrol engine producing in excess of 200 Bhp and instead would have to contend with the 160 Bhp 1.8 liter TSI engine that is currently the flavor of the standard petrol Laura. For all this cosmetic changes, expect a price hike as well. We will keep you updated as and when the car makes its debut in India on August 31st.