After owning two WagonRs in a period of 5 years between 2011 and 2016, the time has finally arrived to go for a safer car. Initially I was pestered by my family members and friends alike suggesting too many options literally recommending all the cars around - except a fiat. Frankly, I had other plans in the back of my mind. I was drooling over fiats since the Unos were first launched in India. At that time, though I had opportunities to drive my friends’ vehicles, I never had the wherwithals (read : middle class) to own a car. I wanted to bring a fiat home while no one in the family had any dissent. After all owning a car shall be a happy occasion. Before continuing with pre-purchase process that brought the current GP-E+-90hp home, a little on my previous cars. During 2010-11, when we first decided to buy a car, I could nearly fix a Fiat Palio (pre-worshipped though), but it was called off due to vehement protest by my father, who insisted buying ONLY a car which has good service network and hassle free spares. At that point of time, I did not have the knowledge/information to convince my father and went for buying a used and good old WagonR of year 2000 make. My point is simple. Father is satisfied with a WagonR and I had to spend very little on the buy, with the option of getting a good car anytime I wanted after throwing it even at scrap price. Life does not allow us to carry out all our plans the way we think. Does it? I ventured into agriculture for two years between 2010-11 & 2011-12 by investing in medicinal plants farming in a leased land. The idea was to take up agriculture as my prime profession, after the then proposed voluntary retirement in 2012 -as I found myself mis-fit for Government service long time back yet unable to find an alternative for long. Mother Nature was not kind to me and I ended up losing my all savings, apart from accumulating substantial debts. Thus, I was literally forced into taking up this profession as an indirect taxes advisor/consultant after VRS. Meanwhile, the first WagonR seldom saw the road, which I retained for nearly 3.5 years before I sold it off for a paltry value, in exchange of another pre-worshipped WagonR (during Feb 2015) from my Brother-in-Law whom then went for an upgrade. Finally, after my situation stabilized in the last four years into the profession, with all debts repaid, I noticed that my road travel has increased greatly from about 6000 kms per year to 12000 kms and with this profession, my travel is more likely to increase and not otherwise. Then came the discussion for buying a ‘safer’ vehicle and the speculations in para 1 above. May be we give a thought on an upgrade or luxury only when we are at peace. During deliberations, it was not hard for me to convince everyone in the family about the choice of fuel - Diesel, as the car-to-be is going to (or at least perceived to) cover reasonable kilometres on annual basis. Then comes the sticky part of the choice of car. Did test drives of cars owned by friends ( I hate to TD a brand new car from a showroom, as it would mean complete nuisance with my mobile ringing all the times). The cars that were available for me to TD were Marui Swift VDI, Renault Pulse RxL dCI, Hyundai Grand i10 CRDI Asta, Ford Figo Titanium TDCI (not the new Figo, which no one in the family likes it) and of course a Fiat Grande punto 1.3 MJD Active. The Volkswagen Polo was not test driven nor any attempts were made for the same, as we simply did not like it. My point was that one car goes out of competition and my father’s point was that it was insanely costly to maintain. I didn’t disturb his view! And, all cars - in the perception of my family - were liked for one aspect or the other. The Pulse was liked for its effortless steering wheel, near petrol engine like performance without any turbo lag whatsoever. The Figo was liked for its handling in traffic, less turbo lag and a good steering. Swift caught the imagination of all not with its decent performance on road, apart from the bias that existed among my family members - the most trusted brand in India. Similar is the case of Grand i10 CRDI, offering a decent performance with comparable prices. However, the engine with one lesser pot was perceived to be negative to NVH in the longer run and was rejected forthright. My father was all along interested in Maruti Swift ZDI, simply on economic considerations - with VFM (?!), best resale value, perceived low maintenance costs, and so on. Had a difficult time to convince him on either on a Fiat punto or Ford figo. His take was if not Swift VDI, then, it has to be either of Nissan/Renault siblings. He made out his economics as below: Cost of purchase of top variant of any vehicle under consideration : Rs.8 - 9 Lakhs Resale value after of the car after covering 1.2 Lakh Kms in 5 years : Rs.5 - 5.5 Lakhs for Swift VDI Rs.4 - 4.5 Lakhs for Renault/Nisaan Pulse/Micra Rs.3.5 - 4 Lakhs for Ford Figo (though old Figo not available for purchase) Rs.3 - 3.5 Lakhs for Fiat Punto Depreciation for 1. Swift ZDI per km : Rs.2.50 to 3.00 per km 2. Pulse/Micra : Rs.2.80 to 3.25 per km 3. Ford Figo : Rs. 3.30 to 3.80 per km 4. Fiat Punto : Rs. 4.50 to 5.00 per km All my arguments on the solid build quality, safety features, driving dynamics of Punto or on the features of Figo (a car used by me to show that I was not biassed to Fiats) were not heeded to with the final nail - “You are not going to drag race with your car on the road and you are a more sedate driver now than you were some years back. Why can’t you go with a ZDI?” for which I did not have an answer for some time. Thus, the decision was nearly made with Swift ZDI winning hands down. However, I requested all in family, particularly my father to postpone the decision a little so that I can come with a good solution, which was agreed. Father told me that he was still open to discussions and if I can provide him with a better value proposition for the cars I suggest, he is amenable to a change. Then, came the thought of buying a used car. Did some research on used car valuation, life of diesel engines, worst case scenario, Servicing niggles, etc., and went to father sometime in March this year with my idea of buying a used car - either a Ford figo or a Punto top trim. I made out an economic presentation as below: 1. Cost of acquiring a 4 - 6 year old vehicle with less than 1 Lakh kms on odo : a) Fiat Grande Punto : Rs.3 - 3.5 Lakhs. b) Ford Figo : Rs.3.5 - 4 Lakhs. 2. Initial maintenance expenses : Rs.50 k 3. Total cost of acquisition : Rs.3.5 to 4.5 Lakhs 4. Usage in kms for 5 years : 1.2 Lakh Kms 5. Resale value after 5 years : Rs.1 - 1.5 Lakhs 6. Savings in cost of acquisition of a new car: Rs.4.5 to 5 Lakhs 7. Interst @ 8% on the saved costs: Rs.36k to 40k per year or 1.8 - 2 Lakhs in 5 years 8. Resale value + interest on Saved costs: Rs.2.8 - 3.5 Lakhs (in 5 years) 9. Additional maintenance costs (being old car) : Rs.20k per year or 1 Lakh in 5 years 10. Resale value + net savings (8-9) : Rs.1.8 - 2.5 Lakhs 11. Depreciation thus, [1-10] : Rs.1.70 to 2 Lakh 12. Depreciation per km : Rs.1.40 to 1.70 I have also mentioned that the above calculations does not take into consideration the EMI interest that would have been payable to bank, when availing a Car loan, which also are further savings. The above economics could convince my father of the value proposition that I was talking about whom agreed to go for a used fiat punto or ford figo, with a stiff budget of Rs.3.5 Lakhs till the car reaches home in road worthy condition. And, he agreed to the trade-off for travelling long distances (60-130 Kms) for finding an Authorized service station given the price at which the car would be procured. A word of caution though : Not to get a lemon after a hard search! Moral of the story till now: If a factor is working to your disadvantage, try converting it to your advantage! I did precisely that - The low resale value of Punto/Figo was a disadvantage from a seller’s perspective, while it is a certain advantage from a buyer’s view. I had to change the position - from a prospective seller to an immediate buyer. Thats it! To be continued ….