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Want to buy a car but can't decide? Ask us here and get expert advice.

autos Updated: May 12, 2010 20:23 IST
Hindustan Times

Want to buy a car but can't decide? Ask us here and get expert advice.

I want to buy my first car within a Rs 6 lakh budget. I’m looking for low maintenance costs, good after sales service, great mileage, BS IV compliance, ABS and airbags, comfortable rear seating for three, a decent boot and excellent ride. Should I go for a petrol car or a diesel one? I make weekend trips of 50-100 km and 300-500 km-long trips once in three months.
Also, do diesel vehicles have a lesser running life, and are they more prone to repairs? I’d prefer a petrol-engined car. And can a BS III vehicle be run on BS IV fuel?
R S Chakravarthy

The new Ford Figo diesel would be best for you as it suits all your requirements. It offers space and has excellent ride and handling. The rear seats are wide and accommodate three passengers. The boot, too, is huge. Diesel engines require frequent maintenance and the replacement parts are costlier.

However, the low running cost of diesel outweighs its maintenance costs. Also, factor in the superior resale value that diesels have. Given your long-distance trips, a diesel car makes more sense. However, Nellore, your city of residence, is not a BS IV city, and you won’t get a car that meets the tougher BS IV emission norms. Even if you register your car in a BS IV city, it won’t be advisable to run it in Nellore as the fuel quality could adversely affect the engine.

Instead, if you increase your budget to Rs 7 lakh, then you can go in for a Hyundai i20 Asta. It is better than the Figo but more expensive. Seventy litres of petrol should cover you for over 700 km a month, which we assume is good for your city running.

You can then stick to a petrol since you prefer it. Yes, a BS III car can run on BSIV fuel. However, most cars (and all Hyundais) made after April 1, 2010 will be BS IV-compliant across India. So even in Nellore, you will get a BS IV car.

I plan to buy a performance car from the used car market. I think the Skoda RS 1.8 is really good, and have identified two such examples at Mahindra First Choice. One has been driven for 35,000 km and the other for 74,000 km.
However, I am sceptical about the serviceability of the car as it has been discontinued. I am looking for affordable power and performance, which this car provides. I intend to modify it using Pete’s performance upgrades to enhance it further and enjoy motoring.
The other option is a Ford Fiesta 1.6 S but it costs Rs 7.50 lakh on-road. Though it is a driver's car, I feel the power it generates is just not sufficient and it lacks turbo.
Deepak Singh

The Octavia RS 1.8 was a true driver’s car in every sense of the term and you can get good deals on them. The RS is inherently reliable and possibly the best platform for performance upgrades. The base 1.8 engine is quite robust and can withstand a big increase in power. Skoda will continue to offer service and spares for the Octavia for at least another 10 years. But parts are likely to get expensive and certain items may not always be in stock.

Pete’s performance upgrades are among the best both in terms of performance and reliability. Pete’s has quite a few options and various stages of performance upgrades for the Octavia. If you decide to buy a used Octavia RS, take the lower mileage car even if it costs more.

The Fiesta 1.6 is a terrific driver’s car and a safer bet but it won’t give you the same thrills as the Octavia RS. We feel you should listen to your heart in this case as a modified Octavia RS can be more thrilling than cars four times its price. However, be prepared for high maintenance bills.

I plan to buy a Tata Manza but cannot decide whether to buy the Quadrajet or Safire. My monthly usage will be around 500-600 km and I’ll keep the car for at least six years. I usually drive between 50-80 kph, so what mileage can I expect from the petrol version? Between the diesel and petrol versions, which is more economical? Can I expect good maintenance, mileage and ownership experience from the Tata Manza? If I buy the Quadrajet and my running is low, will the vehicle require maintenance when it’s not being run? And between the i20 Asta and Manza Safire Aura (ABS), which one is better?
Pranab Kalita

Given your usage, it is difficult to choose between a petrol and diesel car. However, we feel that even though you drive only 500-600 km a month, which is less than 20 km a day, the Manza Quadrajet (diesel) makes better sense than the Safire (petrol). This is because when you sell the car after six years, the resale of the diesel Manza will be far better than the Safire’s and this will more than compensate for the higher purchase price.

Also, the diesel Manza has more torque, which makes it more effortless to drive. And let’s not forget the fantastic economy (14-15 kpl) you can expect from a diesel car. The Safire will give around 11-12 kpl for the same driving cycle and the extra fuel cost will hurt your pocket more as well.

In terms of maintenance, the diesel is a bit higher but it won’t dent the overall cost advantage. If you don’t use your car for long periods, it won’t affect your car. However, it’s always good to have it started once in a while to warm up the engine and keep the battery charge topped up.

First Published: May 12, 2010 12:15 IST