It’s my tryst with destiny. For the longest period of time wanted to buy a new car. It took me a whopping 12 months! to get one. You need to believe that, seriously. I drive a Ford Figo 1.2 ZXI since June 2010. After driving it for 4 continuous years and 50K on the odometer, it was indeed a worthy buy. It’s not a peppy car and average in looks but the build quality is good and it served me well. I have not seen any issues till date except for some minor cluttering noise issues which any car would eventually develop considering the kind of roads and highways we have. Yes I still plan to keep it for at-least 3 years more. Coming back to business in June 2013 I was considering upgrading to a bigger vehicle as I had developed a penchant for road trips. Though the Figo served me well but it was becoming uncomfortable to drive over long distances (More than 400kms a day driving) The requirement was ambiguous, couldn’t justify myself on a diesel/petrol engine. I do around 1500 kilometres a month. Considering the extra 1 lakh you tend to spend on diesel car can be recovered only in around 4 years at the earliest and at the same time buying a diesel car would mean lesser load on the pocket every time you visit a petrol bunk. Still undecided, I kept my options open both Diesel as well as petrol. I started to look around for a car that would fit my specific check list of requirements. The list includes: Safety features: minimum 2 Air bags and ABS- Must Steering mounted controls – Must Integrated media/Nav system with screen & reverse camera, sensor o/p - Wow Cruise control: Optional due to the ability to use it in Indian conditions Rear AC vent: Optional Leather Upholstery: Good to have Alloy Wheels: Must True key less entry: Wow Along with the above features wanted the ride to be comfortable and powerful at the same time. With no prejudices I started the search for a new car. My mind was a clean slate except for the fact that I wanted a host of features as listed above and will not bargain on them. Not at all? Gone were the days when the buyer had no choice but to finalise from the limited models that were available. We are spoilt with options and there are just too many of cars to choose from and that’s where the “INTERNET” came in handy. Did a lot of research on the several cars and finally zeroed on: Fiat Linea emotion Volkswagen Vento/Skoda Rapid Chevrolet Cruze Renault Fluence Renault Duster 85 PS RXL O Tata Safari Storme Mahindra XUV 500 2014 Honda City iVtec and iDtec The first car test driven was the Linea Multijet somewhere in November 2013 and they were offering a cash discount of 75K or 1 lakh in case of exchange. While the car had good equipment level and overall feel was good. Build quality was inspiring. I drove the car for around 5 KMs in traffic. Could feel that something was amiss. The car lacked punch. Engine appeared too small for a heavy car. Before finishing the TD the car was ruled out completely. The cabin noise didn’t helped either. Finished the TD and saw Tjet TD vehicle parked. I asked the SA for a TD of Linea Tjet. I have read a lot about the legend of Tjet; it was the time to test the legend. I sat in the car with high expectations and the car not exceeded all but one. She was exactly opposite to her diesel sibling. When the TD came to an end I started to love the car. Took quotations from the dealer and came back. No decision on purchase yet as I wanted to try the shortlisted cars and all of them. Next was Vento, it is well built and the cabin has a premium feeling. Good quality material used for interiors. I was satisfied with the interior package. 1.6 MPI engine was silent but the drive was not something that inspired me. It has sufficient power but somehow didn’t quite strike the chord. Coupled by the fact that German cars are the most expensive to maintain it was the first to be taken out from the list. I never bothered to Test the Vento TDI. Don’t Know why, wife seconded and ruled it out completely. Vento never really started for us. Third and Fourth car driven were, yes you are right Chevrolet Cruze and Renault Fluence. One word “Amazing” for both the cars. Demo vehicle from Chevy was a 2013 Cruze LT. The car was power packed and drive was excellent, I can say it’s aptly called “Diesel rocket”. Driving position has a nice cockpit like feel. Black interiors were nice. I fell in love immediately, the drive was satisfying and by the time we finished the TD, I was thinking on how to arrange the finances. On further enquiry with the SA for the trim details, I was taken aback by the fact that Chevy has removed few features in the MY2014 car Stop/Start button, true keyless entry etc. and the price was revised upwards by around 50K. The base model was costing 16.77 Lakhs OTR Pune. It broke my heartL. I enquired with SA if he has any 2013 LT model left in the stock, there was none only LTZ which was 18 Lakhs OTR. It was the time to move on. The experience with Cruze encouraged me to look for other cars in the same segment. I had by then had also overcome the initial hiccups related to the price band. We planned to wait for the new Altis and new Fluence. Pics for both were readily available on the web. Fluence looked beautiful. Further research on Fluence revealed it was a facelift and not a major overhaul so decided to go ahead and called up Renault dealer to arrange for a TD. Overall experience with Renault dealer “Roharsh motors” was below average. The TD vehicle only came after couple of follow up calls. The car looks fantastic, interiors are premium, cabin is spacious and silent considering it is a diesel it has acceptable noise level in the car with engine running and its feature packed. I didn’t find the clutch heavy as read in few reviews on the internet. Drive was comfortable and no adrenaline rush. It cannot be compared with the rocket. I liked the start/stop mechanism. You need to insert the key card in a slot provided in dash below the media system. The dashboard had an old world charm to my liking. However it doesn’t compare to some of the cars which has more of a flashy setup. This should be considered my mind was telling me that. Price for the base model E2 (Facelift) came to a whopping 16.83 lakhs OTR Pune. One positive of the Fluence was the FE figures, good 19 KM/L wow. The aspiration factor came in when compared to the Cruze; I can sacrifice the FE for the performance I thought. Cruze scores over Fluence on aspiration. With too much confusion in our (mine and wife) minds we dropped the plan to move to the D1 segment. All cars crossing 16 Lakhs helped us there. One peculiar thing to note was the Renault SA was trying to sell the Duster more than the Fluence, Margins? I didn’t quite like the approach of SA but anyways the thought of checking out on the Duster was planted. More on the Duster a little later. Then came the 2014 City, my wife is a fan for the longest possible time. I called up the Honda Dealer to arrange a TD immediately after the car was launched. I drove both diesel as well as Petrol avatar. I haven’t still quite made up my mind on which fuel option to choose. This perhaps is the most practical car available in the market with nice packaging and a host of variants to choose from “5 trim level”. Petrol was fantastic and diesel was noisy and steeply priced. Dealership experience was good. There was always an issue with the Ground clearance, looks like it is resolved as didn’t saw any issue during my TD with 2 passengers. Although I am not a big fan of the design but still the petrol version entered the final shortlist. Any guesses why? Yeah right, Wife was very happyJ. The Safari Storme Story, XUV 500 and Duster 110 PS RXZ: With my experience would rate Safari Storme as the best available SUV in the 15 lakh bracket. Along with three of my colleagues (Two were planning for their next car and third wanted just to drive new cars) and another friend took a TD of the above mentioned. Yes we all were fascinated by the SUV form factor and thus decided to arrange a TD together, hoping to get a group booking discount in case a common car is finalised. First car to be driven was the Renault Duster, The car is good looking and driving experience was good too. The moment we stepped in, there was a feeling of compromise everywhere. I felt it and so as my friends. The ride was comfortable car was good looking but the price north of 14 lakhs and the SA attitude didn’t help either. None of us really liked the Mahindra XUV 5OO after the brief test drive was over, there was significant Body roll and we were feeling nauseous sitting in the middle seats. This is a common issue that was felt by all of us. No second thoughts and we were unanimous in ruling out the Cheetah from our list, forever? I must tell you, I am mighty impressed by the Storme. It is the best of the lot in driving dynamics, road presence and the sitting position that you get. It is a beast with enormous power to decimate virtually any kind of roads. I wanted to buy this car even before the TD was over but wait for it, Tata ruined the day when they told there is no airbags on offer on the mid-level trim. I mean seriously, are you kidding, who doesn’t offer an airbag on a million Rs car? Not even the driver side? They couldn’t have done any worse. With more or less no or bare minimum equipment level. I seriously wanted to buy that but my mind told me not to pursue it any further. The above feedback is my personal opinion with no disrespect to any other car, their owners or manufacturers. That was it; we were finally down to 3 car shortlist Fiat Linea Tjet, New city, and Renault duster and then started the long discussions on which one to buy. New city was ruled out due to long waiting period upward of 6 months for V/VX trim and coupled by the GC issue. Apart from that there is nothing wrong with the car. Renault Duster was ruled out due to the compromise and sorry to put it across like this but the SA was a fool who knew nothing of cars. I believe dealerships in general should work more on soft skill and product training. We decided to move on and book the only one which is left in the list. So that was it the mind was made that we will book the new Linea Tjet in black. This one was a tough decision; I had to cruise through the in numerous free advices that were offered on why you should not buy a “FIAT”. Believe me; you can try it for yourself, just put across on the table that you want to buy a LineaJ. Many thanks to all the people who helped me get out of the dilemma and finally buy the Tjet. Dealership report and Buying experience: Staff at Pandit Auto was courteous during my first interaction and afterwards in general. Special mention for the SA Sachin who was prompt with almost everything be it TD or my queries. They told me that a HIP Hop Black is available with April manufacturing and can get delivery within 10 days. After some bargaining I managed to get a discount of INR 20000 + 4000 (Corp. Discount) + Linea branded Mud Flaps and carpet type Mats boot Mat not included though. I settled for it (think could have extracted more 25000?) Finally booked the car and Wow! Got the VIN no within no time car was delivered from FIAT’s plant in Ranjangaon to Pune on 6[SUP]th[/SUP] June did a brief inspection of car on 7[SUP]th[/SUP] June and gave a go ahead for RTO and released the full payment for RTO to start. Delivery date was decided as 11[SUP]th[/SUP] June due to religious reasons. My first car was delivered on 10[SUP]th[/SUP] June 2010. Overall experience with Pandit auto was good, staff was well behaved and trained. I would recommend the dealership to others. Few points however: There was a difference in the Ex-showroom price of Pandit and Sky Moto to the tune of 6000 which I pointed and was adjusted accordingly. Insurance premium quoted by dealership was high and I asked to do the insurance on my own which was readily agreed by the dealership. Free 50 Months RSA from FIAT that’s cool. 3 years standard warranty and purchased 2 years additional for INR 7703. Detailed pricing in the screenshot. Likes: Paint quality is top notch and it just looks awesome. The centre console with Piano black finish looks cool. The synthetic material on the dashboard is nice to feel and ambient lighting adds to the wow factor. Safety kit with all round disc brakes is a +. Blue and Me is fab trying to get used to of it. Customizable settings for dash, airbags and buzzer sound is a big +. Reasonably comfortable in spite of high GC. What could be done better? The new interiors are better than the previous gen but could have been better. I don’t know why FIAT missed a touchscreen system with/without navigation. No spare alloy wheel. Middle headrest missing, how much did u save there? Cut short the front armrest to accommodate the bottle holder Leather upholstery colour appears to be a shade lighter would have loved one or two shade darker. It will take a lot to maintain those seats. I would have preferred a reverse parking system with visual feedback with/without camera. Music experience is not up to the mark, Figo had a better system. Plastic quality could have been better at many places. Air con vents plastic is pathetic. Panel gaps specially in the bonnet section. Side Profile while waiting to be handed over to the new owner: *Credits to puchoo as his write up influenced by his thread and what better can you expect of me! I have got the delivery of the car a week earlier, initial ownership review will follow after 1000 KMs done. More pics to follow shortly after I finish a photo operation, probably this week?