How many times would you be flummoxed with the thought of buying in a used car and that too with a very limited budget? The answer would be many times. Especially so, when there are many choices available at the same price point. More and more users plump in for sedans rather than hatchbacks because a used hatch especially the premium ones cost nearly the same as an old second hand saloon or sedan. Today, we have got three very capable contenders however from the used car market. All these cars were the first choice for many buyers in their segment, that is when they were in production and just launched. Those three cars are a used Maruti Esteem, a used Hyundai Accent and a used Ford Ikon. These three cars are readily available in the market now and at dirt cheap prices. Especially so, since the Esteem as also the Ikon are no longer manufactured whereas the Accent, recently, got a fresh lease of life with a minor facelift and a few features thrown in for the interiors.
As far as the looks go, the Accent and the Esteem look similar. Only the Ford Ikon looks different. However the Accent is the one with the muscles whereas the Esteem is more of a lean look and the Ikon looks a healthy kid. However since the Ikon was recently scrapped and if you happen to find a recent example, then it is worth the investment since a car manufacturing company, even if it has axed a certain model, then it would support that particular car with spare parts for about 10-15 years thereafter. So there is no cause for worry if you go for either of these cars. The Esteem had been around for longer than the others here. The Esteem came in 1994 whereas the Ikon and the Accent came around the year 2000. Chances of finding a used Maruti Esteem without any dings or scratches is a bit of worry. Instead, a used Ford Ikon wouldn’t have so much of a trouble. Also the used Accent, similarly wouldn’t have too many things going on its bumper. Older Esteems would have blacked out head lamps due to the age they have seen as also enthusiastic owners going in for halogen lamps with a higher wattage, without changing the head lamp glass. These issues however cannot be seen much in the other two vehicles.
Used Ford Ikon cars had a small wing mirror which wasn’t even fixed with the newer iterations coming in. Instead the other two, the used Maruti Esteem and used Hyundai Accent came with wide mirrors. However, the Esteem is the only one here which comes with body colored mirrors and due to its wide nature, more prone to getting the paint scratched and stuff. It all actually depends on the first owner who may or may not have maintained the car. Since the Accent is the longest of the lot, chances are that the first owner, in a mood of carelessness, might have scraped its sides, so do check for the paint quality. The Esteem in its final years had a very good quality paint job thrown in. There are actually two people in the Indiandrives office who have actually got second hand Maruti Esteems from the 2007-2008 batch and both the cars look mint fresh from the outside. The tail lamps of the Esteem and the Accent are of the clear lens variety while the ones on the Ikon are a bit of the older variety. By the way, the later batch of Esteems had LEDs at the rear, which the others in this competition simply don’t have. As for the tyres, the Esteem had the punier of the tyre configurations which give up their ghost very easily. So do watch out for the tyres and their treads. The ones in the Accent last longer than the others here. The used Ford Ikon would also have a tyre configuration which would hold its line well.
Now, the interiors. While all three cars have reasonable build quality, the Esteem feels the most fragile of the lot. This is evident from the moment, one shuts the door. A hollow thunk is what is heard when the doors are shut. However if the doors have been damaged, they cost significantly less than the Ikon. Replacing the Ikon’s doors take around Rs 9k while those of the Accent take around Rs 7k. The ones on the Esteem cost only Rs 5k. The rubber beadings on the doors of the Esteem are prone to leak and especially with the monsoon season fast approaching, it is but natural that these need to be checked into. The Ikon had the meatiest rubber beadings and those stand the test of time well enough. The Accent treads the mid path in this thing. As for the seating arrangement, the Esteem sits closer to the ground than the Accent and Ikon, in the same order. So taller people would have a chore getting in and out of the Esteem while the Ikon would be the easiest one for this. The Accent is more like the Esteem than the Ikon in this aspect. All three have bare basic equipment levels as far as interiors are concerned. However these same features thrilled the buyers at that time. The Esteem’s fragile build quality shows with the way things are put up. Esteems which made their way later on to the show rooms, i.e. post 2006 had a better build quality and it is wiser to put your hard earned money on these. There would be AC, heater and the regular stuff that even the entry level hatchback models now offer. Underthigh support is offered best by the Accent’s seats than the cosily hugging ones of the Ikon. As for the Esteem, its low seating ensures that you would be as comfortable as sitting on a table with a cut indent on it. Instruments are also of the bare basic kinds on all the three cars here with the Accent throwing in a trip meter as well. All the three cars here have electric power windows but all three have reported problems with their operation especially with the older ones. Do check this out as power windows replacement can cost anything between Rs 2k-4k for a repair. The Ikon is the one which uses hard wearing materials for the construction of its dashboards and hence as a result, it has the least rattles from its dashboard. The Accent has also got a strong construction and hence rattles are minimal. The Esteem rattles far more and this is something which service personnel fix with some fevistick. The Accent is the more comfortable one for long legged people and the Ikon favors the shorter ones.
Cut to the rear and it’s the Accent which has far greater space as compared to the competition here. Even with the front seats stretched all the way back, its comfortable to a certain degree, even for the people with long legs. The Esteem with its low seats is definitely a no-no for older people and even the taller ones. So, if you are of the taller kinds, its better to avoid the Esteem. The Ikon has a good entry point however its too cramped, more than the Esteem. As far as upholstery is concerned, the Accent features the lightest materials and tends to get soiled easily. While for the other two darker materials are used, this might make the cabin a bit gloomy but overall the cleaning procedure is reduced to an extent. Watch out for ill fitting gloveboxes in both the Esteem and the Ikon while the Accent’s door handles were said to be a problem with some owners reporting broken handles after just some months of the purchase. Rusting issues crop up more on the Esteem due to its light weight material construction which means that dents would eventually mar the build quality. The Ikon has a fair protection from rust whereas rusting issues in an Accent mean that it has been abused very much over the years. At around the 45k kms mark, the suspension of the used Maruti Esteem would beg you to take a harder close look at it. Clanking suspension over potholes mean that the tie rods and associated stuff need to be replaced. Whilst on a test drive, check out the car for these problems. The Esteem was one hell of a performer during its hey days. The chassis was a willing performer for taking turns and stuff but its ride quality was not upto the mark. Sagging suspension at the rear can be seen for both the used Hyundai Accent as also the second hand Maruti Esteem. Suspension over haul for a second hand Ford Ikon needs to be done only post the 50k kms mark. The Ford Ikon has the best chassis amongst this lot. It has the best handling amongst this trio and its chassis can teach the newer lot of cars a thing or two about handling better. The hydraulic power steering of the Ikon is one of the more direct units that have set foot in the economy section of the Indian car market. Its underpinnings also don’t need much looking into and the usual thing that the car shouldn’t wander to only one side of a straight road needs to be looked into. There was some EPS failure noted from the Esteem cars and do checkout if the used one that you are eyeing has this problem or not. The steering on the Esteem is the lightest followed by the Accent and then the Ikon. The Esteem is also the easiest to maneuver in traffic however the Ikon is the easiest to drive considering its smaller proportions and less of front overhangs.
Now comes the engine part. Buyers are always beware of this thing before buying a second hand or used car. The Esteem gets three engine options and those are a 1.3 liter engine with carburetor, a 1.3 liter engine with fuel injection and the last one is a 1.5 liter TUD5 diesel engine. The first and the third option are to be omitted entirely from this equation as the carburetor version would take you back to the Neolithic age while the diesel variant is as hard to find as a dinosaur. The 1.3 aluminium engine is a powerful unit making 85 Bhp of power. The transmission is a 5 speed manual which should shift smoothly. If there is any hesitation while shifting to reverse, then there is a problem with either the clutch or the gear. Clutch play is minimum here and if it feels to be hard, then it is time to change the same. For the Hyundai Accent, there were also three engine options. One was the 1.6 liter petrol which produced close to 103 Bhp. However this engine was assembled with a haste in satisfying the pure drivers in India and hence had many problems in it. It is best to avoid this variant. Watch out for the Viva and Tornado tags at the rear and you know then what to avoid. The second engine is a 1.5 liter petrol which still is available and hence this would be the better bet amongst the petrol engines. It makes a powerful 94 Bhp of power and is aligned with a 5 speed manual. The gearhifts are a bit notchier than those of the Esteem however the clutch is on the lighter side of things and if it does feel any hard, then it needs your attention. There was also a 1.5 liter diesel engine, the first CRDI engine in India. It is however to be avoided since many owners used to sell their cars saying that the injectors weren’t graded according to the Indian fuel and hence faced many problems with the cars refusing to start up and stuff. The Ford Ikon came with a variety of engines and the more famous one is the 1.6 liter petrol which was called as the Josh machine. It is an enthusiasts delight. If you are in the market looking out for a performance machine out of the trio, the it would be the 1.6 liter variant of the Ikon which you should be looking at. It produced 100 bhp of power and was mated to a slick shifting gearbox. Clutch feel however is on the harder side. Post the 50k kms mark, a used Ford Ikon would need its clutch and bearing plates to be replaced. As far as the engine was concerned, it was the Achilles heel in the whole package. There were some overheating issues noted in the 1.8 diesel engine as also the smaller 1.3 ROCAM engine. Some were also reported with faulty head gaskets. Before investing in a Ford Ikon, do give a hard stare down its engine bay. Take a Ford service technician along with you. For the used Esteem, especially with the 1.3 liter MPFI engine, there is very less to fault. However if the car that you are looking at, has crossed the 1 lakh kilometers mark, then it would need an overhaul.
For the prices deal, the Hyundai Accent is the one which holds its value well enough. A used Hyundai Accent price for the CRDI model would be around Rs 3 lakhs and come to think of it, it is from the 2003 batch. As for the petrol 1.5 liter model, the price would be slightly on the higher side of things. The second hand Hyundai Accent price would be Rs 3.4 lakhs to Rs 4 lakhs to models from 2006-2009. For the Maruti Esteem, a used Maruti Esteem price from the 1997 batch would be only Rs 30k while that from the 2004 batch would hover around Rs 1.85 lakhs to Rs 3 lakhs for a 2008 model. As for the Ford Ikon, a used Ford Ikon price would be Rs 2.3 lakhs for a 2007 model and for a 2010 model (1.4 diesel), it would be close to Rs 4.8 lakhs. As far as sales and service go, there is no beating Maruti and costs of spares for the Esteem is also on the lower side. Next up comes Hyundai. They have a service center spreadout which, though, wouldn’t be a patch on the Maruti, is also good. The third one, Ford, have a bad name as far as sales and service is concerned. However with the launch of the Figo, Ford have got enough experience to teach their service advisors some etiquettes as also better training. Our pick would remain the used Hyundai Accent due to its mid path treading and overall being a better choice in the comfort segment, if not in the performance bracket.