Part 1: The deciding factor
I loved the Ciaz right when it was launched almost 1.5 years ago, so much so that in June 2015 I even came pretty close to buying one. But then I was not 100% convinced whether I should take the plunge or not. Probably for the first time in my life, I listened to reason and cancelled the plan of a new car. I gave my impatient soul one year’s time.
Our criteria were – it should be spacious, comfortable, adequately powerful, feature rich, and fuss-free ownership and after-sales support. And, to some extent, decent resale value. Though owning my Chevrolet (Spark) was a pleasant experience for me from the after-sales point of view, the resale value was terrible. From this point, our hunt began, for the car that suits us the most. Going by the elimination method, we first ruled out what we call “the pseudo cars”: It should either be a proper hatch-back, or a sedan, or an SUV. There was no place for a prefix of “compact”. No compact sedan, no compact SUV. Buzz off!
Immediately I started checking out the other options. And the most obvious were the Germans! I think no car lover wouldn’t drool over a Vento or a Rapid. They are a class apart. But at the end of the day, a Volkswagen or a Skoda badge comes with some degree of skepticism for an average Indian car buyer. The recent mess that VW is going through has also raised concerns about the dependability of world’s one of the most trusted automobile brands. There were even more concerns that people raised at various car forums. So the Germans had to go and I feel bad that I could not own one. I am sure, they would drive great and feel great. The next was obviously the segment leader – none other than the Honda City! I was almost certain of buying that, but the almost 1.5 Lakh premium over Ciaz and still missing some basic features had put me on the spot. At that time too, I was evaluating between the City and the Ciaz. The Jazz 2015 was the last option. Somehow I did not want to go the Hyundai way. So we had successfully narrowed down our search. That’s what I thought.
Then towards the end of October 2015, Maruti launched Baleno with much fanfare. And that changed all the equations I had in my mind. I liked the design, especially in the top-end variant, Alpha, that has the nice projector head lamps and the DRLs that distinguish the headlamps from those of the Swift. With all the bells and whistles, it fitted my bill perfectly. The next task was to convince the missus that it was a better idea than buying a sedan, which I did after some initial futile attempts. Hence the decision was made – we will buy the Baleno by the end of second quarter or in the third quarter of 2016 (calendar year).
Then in the Auto-Expo Feb 2016, Maruti showcased the Brezza after creating a lot of buzz in the market. I fell for it head over heels despite of the initial hatred for the compact SUVs. However, the missus was dead-against it and the Diesel-only policy was kind of a deal breaker for me. Though there were news that it’ll come in Petrol too, nothing was confirmed and official. I couldn’t wait anymore. I called up all the Nexa outlets in Pune to inquire about the Baleno. And to my horror, they had waiting period of 7 months for the hatch of my dreams! Who’ll wait that long for a car? Not me!
Then about a month passed and finally the Brezza was launched. Even Ford had slashed the Ecosport prices substantially and that had made it – the Ecoboost engine especially – a good contender. From what I heard, space in the rear seat was a constraint, the boot was not too large, city driveability might be an issue due to the turbo lag in the turbo-charged 1.0 Litre Ecoboost engine, and personally I don’t like the dashboard with the plethora of buttons. Ecosport – nope!
Amids all this, Maruti advertised good exchange schemes and I stepped into a showroom to inquire about the offers and also to check out Brezza. After seeing it in flesh, Brezza was unanimously striked out of our consideration list. So we took a test drive of the Ciaz Petrol instead.
As it turned out, Ciaz’s on-paper “underpowered” engine (1400 CC) was, after all, not so underpowered. I liked how it pulled in the 3rd gear from 20 km/h with A/C and 3 adults on-board, and it had good throttle response to drive in the city. When I floored the throttle in the top gear, it did take a second or two to serve up the power. But I can certainly live with that, considering my 90% driving will be in the city. Overall, the cabin felt well put together and the A/C was a real chiller. I checked the doors closing and opening, they did not sound tin-like at all. So the build quality was good as well! Hence the decision was made – a Ciaz ZXI it is!
Part 2: Buying
Now the March-ending stuff. All these lucrative offers are valid only for the next 4 days. We walked out of the showroom with a promise to book the car next day, as we were getting a good deal on my old car (Chevrolet Spark, 3 years and 3 months, 18150 KMS).
But the next day the sales guy confirmed that there were no Silver Ciaz ZXI, as I wanted, and I should instead go for a color of his choice. He didn’t even know the features of the car and professionalism was something out of his vocabulary. So I shooed him away and thought to wait for a couple of months more, as per my initial plans. By the lunch time that day (Monday, March 28, 2016), just to calm the turbulence that was going in my head, I thought to check with another dealer – Chowgule. I’d heard good words about them from a trusted friend. The sales person was a delight to deal with. He came to my home the same evening, gave a test drive, and explained every details of the buying procedure. They also evaluated my Chevrolet Spark and agreed to offer the same deal that I was getting from the other dealer. I wrote a cheque for the booking amount, and the deal was made. The next step was to reach his showroom by 11 next morning with a lot of documents!
The next day was, as expected, quite hectic. But this person helped me through everything. Even the loan was disbursed on the same day and the dealer promised to deliver the new car in 4 days. Exhausted by the day’s activities, I mourned my old car that I had to give away and prepared for the next 3 days without a car.
The wait seemed to be never-ending. Those were probably the longest three days of my life!
I also had a lot of apprehensions about the new car since it was a quick delivery and I did not do any PDI. I could not even check the VIN to determine if the car was from an old stock. On the delivery day, the first thing I checked was the VIN code for the month and year of manufacture and the odometer. To my relief, the VIN manufacture code read – BG, denoting that it is a Feb 2016 made car. The odometer running was 30 KM. Splendid!
And here is a pic of my new car – my Silky Silver Ciaz ZXI. Probably I’ll call her Crystal, until I find a better name! 😉
At the time of delivery: Odometer reading: 30 KMs, fuel efficiency: 6.7 KMPL.
Today, odometer: 88.8 KMs, fuel efficiency: 11.8 KMPL. I am sure, it’ll go further up as I drive more.
Trivia: Ciaz is actually an acronym for Comfort, Intelligence, Attitude, and Zeal. 🙂
- Projector head lamps and front fog lamps
- 15″ alloy wheels
- 2 air bags
- ABS, EBD
- Height adjustable driver seat
- Height adjustable front seat belts
- Smart key with remote boot release
- Engine start/stop button
- Automatic climate control A/C
- Rear A/C vents
- Steering mounted phone and Bluetooth controls
- Automatic day/night IRVM
- Electronically adjustable and foldable ORVMs with integrated blinkers
- Driver-side auto up/down and pinch guard window
- Speed sensing auto door lock
- Rear parking sensors with camera
- Rear sunshade
- Arm-rest both in front and rear
- A LOT OF SPACE!
- Big boot of 510 L
- A good-enough sound system with remote
- Very comfortable part leather-part fabric seats
- Footwell lamps, 2 reading lamps in the rear, map lamp, theater dimming effect, boot lamp
- Push-open concealed storage below the center console
What I like:
- Seating position: High and comfortable with good visibility. I am 6.1 foot and it matters a lot!
- Chiller A/C. Not too noisy even at highest blower speed.
- The wide range of features!
- Easy handling and driveability in the city.
- Fit and finish.
- Fuel economy.
- Unlike my previous car, no change in power when the A/C is turned on or off.
- Light steering that weighs up well with speed. Maneuvering is fun.
- Almost flat floor in the rear, no intrusion from the transmission tunnel.
- Spacious seat and interior.
What I do not like:
- The driver arm-rest is too far behind. I wish I could slide and adjust it.
- The dead-pedal is just a rubber pad on the floor, it should have been raised.
- The windows do not close smoothly. It is powerful and rough.
I am yet to drive her in the night or take her to the highway. Eagerly waiting to get the best of her and soothe the soul with a good drive. That’s a long overdue!