Buying a 1st car can be very daunting and challenging task given the endless myriad choices between the different manufactures and the options to choose from them. Though I have learnt driving very recently, but the flame of buying a car for myself was burning from 2011-12. The matchmaking for the exact (b)ride.. The qualities of my perfect (b)ride 1. Safety – well built with the safety option like ABS / Airbags / EBD etc. 2. Good looks – obviously. 3. Should be able to seat 4 adults comfortably, max 5. 4. Should be comfortable for both highway & city as I would travel to native 5-6 times a year. 5. Should last for at least 5-7 years without major concerns. 6. Diesel car – though I am not a pro driver, diesel was considered for mileage / power. 7. Decent A.S.S. 8. Preferably premium hatch back. So the hunt began…. !!! 2011-12 To be honest like most of the Indians I have aspired to own a HONDA. I was really impressed by Jazz. But it was way out of my budget. When it was released. I kept hoping that the Honda would reduce the cost & also release the diesel model. But as time has it took them 3 years to release the diesel car but it was not Jazz. During this time my desire to own a car took the back seat as I was ready to bide my time to wait for my perfect b(ride). Fast forward to 2014 After doing extensive research (online and offline) test drives budget (approximately 9L) following options were considered in 1st round. 1. Honda – Amaze - was considered 1st preferred option as it was HONDA After reading some official reviews I had very high expectations about the car. So visited Honda for test drive. For a. Very spacious cabin. b. Lot of storage options. c. The big ‘H’ badge. d. Decent looks. e. Steering and gear was very smooth. Good vehicle to drive in city. f. Comfortable seats. Against a. I was shocked and disappointed to see Honda cutting corners in interiors. The cabin was looking very boring & was not feeling premium. b. The NVH inside the cabin from diesel engine. c. At high speed it didn’t exude confidence. So after just one visit my aspiration to own a Honda was thrown out of the window. I was very disappointed. But as roumour had it the Jazz was expected by year end. So I thought I will wait. As City was way out of my budget. 2. Hyundai – i20 My co-brother owns one. So I have driven extensively with him. For a. Full of gizmos / features / safety provisions. Fit the bill perfectly. b. One of the best looking hatch backs. c. Very nice to drive in the city. d. Decent highway performance. e. The Hyundai’s service network, f. Overall VFM proposition and practical car. Against a. Suspensions was very soft. With 5 on board it was scraping and counting all the humps in Bangalore. Each pot hole would bring shivers literally to your spine. b. Steering feedback was not that great. c. did not exude confidence at very high speeds & corners. 3. Skoda fabia For a. Excellent build quality. b. Very spacious cabin. c. Fantastic ride & handling. d. Very good highway performance. Against a. Very pricey. b. Scary A.S.S c. Little aging design. 4. Ford Figo For a. Excellent VFM car. b. Very very practical one too. c. Awesome ride and handling. d. Decent looks. Against a. Kind of aging design. b. Even the top end does not have most of the features. c. Suspension issues. 5. Maruti Suzuki – Swift For a. Very fun to drive car. b. Excellent for city as well as highway. c. Maruti legendary service network. d. Easy to maintain. Against. a. Build quality left lot to be desired. b. Very cramped rear leg room. c. Less boot space as well. d. Feeling of getting lost in hordes of existing swift on the road. 6. Volkswagen – Polo - TDI For a. Fantastic build quality. I think one of the best in India. b. Excellent ride & handling. c. Good interiors fit and finish. d. Classic looks. Against a. Engine seem under powered. Though GT was lunched little later. It was way out of my budget. b. Cost maintenance. c. Not very good A.S.S After round one. The contenders were 1. Hyundai - I-20 2. Volkswagen – Polo – TDI 3. Ford – Figo. Yes, in the 1st round Punto was not even considered. Though I had seen & taken very short test drive, the car was a looker as always, but interiors were real put off. Did not feel upmarket at all. Also Swift was rejected purely based on the space inside the cabin & boot. Fabia was very pricey. Meanwhile Honda had postponed its launch of Jazz to 2015. So no Honda for me at leaset for some time. So then we decided to finalize out of these three. 1st to go was I-20. Though my wife really liked the car, somehow I was not happy with the suspension & highway performance. Now left with the 2 options. It was a hard choice between Polo & Figo . Eventually Polo won because of overall looks build. But my parents felt that it was little cramped, but after lot convincing they agreed with heavy heart. My father even suggested me to buy a sedan. Final it was POLO was going to be my 1st car, so I thought. I was really excited .I almost booked the car at Electronic city show room. But as the fate / luck has it, I had to go out of town for a month due to official works. So the plan was kept on hold for a moment. Meantime I was casually going through online forums Like Team BHP etc. for reviews of the recent cars & details about Polo, I stumbled across Punto threads. This is when the thing started getting interesting. The more I read more I started thinking about Punto as most of the owners were very passionate & Fiat turned them into fanboys. Also I came across that no other brand in India has such a passionate fan following. Now I seriously started considering Punto as an option as well. I was still not happy with the old punto’s interiors. Since facelift was due for Punto I decided to wait for it. If I was not happy with the facelift version I can always buy Polo. So It was the August “PAKSHA” month which also helped me to gather more information as well as keep the dealers away citing the same reason. During the September month it was extensive test drives again. I took my cousin along with me to test drive all the cars; as he was the more experienced driver, to suggest to me in terms of overall performance. 1st was the Punto. Both of us were blown away by the aggressive looking Punto. Though we felt the chrome was little over done. But the car was looking fresh. When we saw the interiors it was way better than the outgoing one. It was looking upmarket but not in the league of elite i-20 or Polo. So this started slowly tilting the scale towards Punto We checked at both Vecto & KHT, they only had 75HP version no 90HP. 75HP didn’t feel all that exciting. So we decided to wait. Meantime we checked elite i-20, the interiors were top notch. I think the best for any hatch in India. Though it was distinct looking; it felt like a rip off from Audi / BMW. Coming back to Punto, we got a call from KHT that 90HP was available for test drive. So we headed to their show room for the test drive. But again we were in for a surprise. The interior of the 90HP looked entirely different that the 75HP, with all black interiors. With orange ambient lighting it was looking hot. We drove the car, it was very smooth & NVH levels were considerably low. Apart from initial lag car was pulling nicely. It felt very well built & solid. Something had already started stirring in my heart. So now again the choice had become difficult. Decided to take my wife along next time, once she saw the car the look on her face said it all. She also loved the beauty of Punto. It was decided it’s going to be Punto or Polo. Checked with both the dealers for the final pricing and discounts. Punto had a festive discount of 20K. This tilted the scale even more towards Fiat. Finally it was Punto. I decided to take the plunge. The color selected was black. No prizes for guessing as it was my wife’s choice. Buying experience Booked the vehicle (Punto Evo – 90HP) on 25th September through Vecto motors. Total on road price including RSA + Extended warranty + Zero dep insurance is 8.75L. Took the loan from Axis bank. The process was smooth. The loan was cleared on 30th Sept. During all this process the SA person / people at Vecto motors was very courteous & helpful. As there was no ready stock vehicle was dispatched from Pune factory on 1st week of October. Got a call from Vecto motors on arrival of the vehicle. Then went to their stock yard and did PDI. Found everything was OK. Vehicle was registered on 10th October. Told SA person the keep the vehicle ready for the D day. On D day – the 12th October – Reached show room with my family. I was feeling really excited and nervous too. Finished all the required documentation works the car was kept ready. Demo was given by SA. All the accessories were already fitted. So it was the time to drive home my new (b)ride. Took car directly to home. Mom did small pooja at home. Evening went to temple for the pooja. Then filled the tank. Took family for drive on NICE road. Came back & all the while could not control my smile. Finally my dream of owning a 1st car came through. Could not sleep at night due to exhilarating feeling. Got up several time to look through the window that the car was indeed parked there & not a dream. Initial days.. I have driven almost 700k in last 15 days. Here are my observations a. The clutch play seems little longer. b. Initial lag – 1st & 2nd gear. It was little frustrating, but got used to It now. c. In love with the car already. d. Apart from minor fit & finish issues. The car looks really good. e. It is definitely a head turner. Loving the attention. Accessories planned a. Art leather upholstery – Done – Through Marvin leathers. b. Reverse parking sensors. c. 3M underbody coating d. Body detailing – paint protection treatment. e. Some body decals. PS: This has been very long post. Thanks all for reading through. The opinions cited above as mine only. No offence to anybody intended. Now its show time !!!