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AUTOMOBILES - BUYER'S GUIDE

 

Small Wonders!

In a market bursting with choices for all wallets and whims, shopping for a small car is no small job. Look left, look right, left again, proceed. A Dancewithshadows primer. 

 

BY ANISH

 Gone are the days when buying a small car meant choosing between a Maruti 800 and a Zen. In the Indian market brimming with choices, buying a small car can be quite a trial. Forget first-time buyers, even those hunting for a change of car are left confused in a market full of small cars, where each manufacturer is competing for your money. The prospective car-buyer is bound to collapse facing rapid fire jargon like MUV, NV, Xing thing, German engineering, and More Car Per Car etc etc.

 

What do I want from my car?

So what are you looking for? You need a car that is stylish, has enough space for your family of four, is fuel-efficient, has low running costs, is backed by a network of easily accessible service stations, and one that would fetch good resale value five years down the line. So how do you decide which car is worth your money? Read on...

How much can I afford?

At your first peek into the Indian small car market, you will find cars costing as low as Rs 2.6 lakhs to as high as Rs 5.5 lakhs. The first thing to do is decide how much you want to invest in your dream baby. Shortlist the choices. Setting your budget not only helps you think clearly, but also picks out the cars that fit in your budget. Don't let those loan companies stretch you beyond your budget.

Fuel duel

Next, decide which fuel your car will use: petrol or Diesel. Choose Diesel, and your choices are fairly limited. Also, your decision for a diesel car should be so only if you have a lot of driving to do.

 

Diesel?

Diesels in the Indian small car segment can literally be counted on fingers - namely Zen D, Indica Diesel, and Palio D. Although the bestseller in the diesel segment is undoubtedly the Indica Diesel, buyers have their own reasons for going for each one of the other cars.

Petrol?

Choose petrol, and you have a bigger list before you -- Maruti 800, Indica Petrol, Santro, Zen, Alto, WagonR, Palio, Getz and Corsa Sail. Entering this list soon will be Ford Fusion and Honda Fit.

Entry Level Cars

If you are migrating from a two-wheeler or a Premier Padmini to a new car with lower budgets, the Maruti 800 and the Alto LXi are great options. These cars are absolute value for money, have incredible fuel efficiency, perform commendably, and most of all, are very easy to drive, even on bad Indian roads.

Premium Hatchbacks

Throw in a few more lakhs and you can bite into the wider small segment populated by the Hyundai Santro, Maruti Zen, Maruti WagonR, Tata Indica, and Fiat Palio. Besides being more powerful than Segment A cars, these sport more aesthetic designs and are available with a host of options and subsequent pricelists. Options include power steering, power windows, body-colored bumpers, booster-assisted brakes with ABS, rear wipers, rear defoggers, leather seats, wood-finish interiors, and sporty gear knobs. These cars have plush interiors and are generally very appealing to the eye.

Big Small Cars

The top-of-the-line segment in the small car market is cornered by Hyundai Getz, Opel Corsa Sail and high-end Palios. These cars, although smaller than mid-sized cars, are meatier than small cars and provide the power that motor enthusiasts crave for.

Being small, these can be driven around with ease and being powerful, offer both breath-taking acceleration and high top speeds. These cars are most suited for the buyer who wants good power and performance in a small package. Fuel efficiency? Well, letís leave that out for another story!

So whatís my decision?

Summing it up, choosing a small car can be quite a tough task, especially if you make an uninformed decision and realize that another car is better than yours. So take your time, and do the market research. Get feedback from existing owners. Read up reviews on popular motoring mags. With the correct information and your finest choice, nothing stands between you and your dream small car. Happy small car shopping! 

BY ANISH

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