Abhimanyu Sharma first kissed on the Delhi University campus in a Mercedes E-class. It was not his daddy’s car, but one he hired from a rental service near his East of Kailash home. The 19-year-old is not the only nawab vrooming ahead of his campus peers on the campus. Car rental companies in the Capital are flooded with calls from fuchchas who want to rent luxury cars for their first day in college.
Aditya Loomba, director of sales at Eco Rent a Car, tells us all about the trend: “We get a lot of enquiries from youngsters who wish to rent luxury cars to kickstart their college-hood. They’re ready to pay a bomb to make a statement. Most ask for SUVs, as they are such head-turners. The hottest choice is the Ford Endeavour, with a Mercedes E-class or S-class coming a close second.” The dream list also includes the Toyota Corolla, the Skoda Octavia and the Honda Accord.
Sakshi Vij, marketing head of Carzonrent, says that these “walk-in customers” are ready to pay a small fortune to keep the car just for a day or two. “Luxury cars like the Toyota Camry and any Mercedes model are status symbols for the youth. While a Mercedes is available for Rs 10,000-12,000 for 80 km, renting a Camry will cost Rs 8,000 or more,” she says.
Abhimanyu rented his Merc by putting together five grand he borrowed from friends with some cash he already had.
Less affluent youngsters settle for a Maruti Esteem or a Chevrolet Tavera as these are cheaper at Rs 1,500-3,000 for 150 km, says Rohini Singh of Apace Car Rental.
These kids love to show off, but have not lost their sense of economy. Even when it comes to luxury vehicles, they pool in, says Loomba. “College students would hire a Toyota Commuter to party with friends all night,” he says. “They are driven around the city by a chauffeur in the vehicle that boasts a 22-inch plasma screen with DVD player and a fridge. Since it can take eight people, they go Dutch to drink the night away on a road trip.”
For the new DU boy, zooming into college in a big, expensive car has its perks — like getting a girlfriend with rather less toil than lesser mortals who come on rusty bikes or battered hatchbacks. “It sure helps some who do it. I know this guy who did it and managed to get a girl. But I’d rather let my personality do the talking,” says Pranjal Sharma, a third-year student from Delhi College of Engineering.
Impressing girls is all very well, but what happens when the rented car is returned and Superboy becomes just an ordinary boy? “I’m sure it gets sticky,” laughs Manav Saxena, in second-year. “My friend, who rented a Corolla for the first week of college last year, told his girl later that the car was his father’s and is now at his cousin’s place in Chandigarh.”
Girls’ reaction to the show-offs is varied. Garima Upadhyay, a second-year student of LSR college, is appalled. “I don’t think such thrills impress girls,” she says. “I don’t care if a guy has parked a BMW or an SUV outside my college.”
Smriti Deep Kaur from Indraprastha University proves more susceptible to the shiny dream machines. She is of the opinion that “a guy with a big car has to possess great power and money, so it’s natural for me to be attracted to him rather than to any average Joe”. But Smriti has her principles, too: “If I find out that he has been faking it just to impress me, I’ll tell him to back off!”
What it costs
Mercedes models like E-class or S-class Rs 10,000-12,000 for 80 km
Rs 8,000 or more for 80 km
Maruti Esteem or Chevrolet Tavera
Rs 1,500-3,000 for 150 km
Most boys like powerful, huge SUVs like the Ford Endeavour or a Merc E- or S-class. Toyota Corolla, the Skoda Octavia and the Honda Accord are on their wishlist