Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ford or Honda!

My posts take off so often on comments.... This time on cars.
Now that I'm back in Delhi, I am going to persuade DD to get a new car since the Accent we have is getting very worse for the wear after 85000 k's and six years on the road. And since it is all about upgrading, the choice is rather clear - either the new Honda Civic which will be launched in January or February 2006 in India or the Ford Fiesta which was launched today and should hit the roads by early November.
We don't need a car right now and while Diesel is still the cheaper fuel, just look at the two cars - the Fiesta on top and the Civic below. The Civic looks like something out of Star Trek, it will have an extremely frugal engine (the new Honda City my mom drives gives ridiculously high milage) and it will be brilliantly engineered. That said, I'm sure the Ford will be an amazing car to drive - the 1.6 Ikon, Fusion and Mondeo are really good drivers cars - let me clarify that these are great cars by Indian standards - the only bum cars by Ford was the early Escort, the old 1.3 Ikon (the new 1.3 Ikon is a good car, not fun) and the Endeavour is slower than an elephant at full speed, though it is as cavernous as an elephant.
That said, the old Honda City was a ants-in-your-pants kind of car. It was the first production car that gave 100hp in India, and while it did not handle as well as its direct competition the Mitsubishhi Lancer - SD had an SFXi which was amazing around corners - it went like a freaking rocket. Even though one should not show off about law-breakingly stupid antics - it was in a City VTEC that I had for a test-drive that I once did Uni to Saket in just over 15 minutes.
The new City lost that driving exhilaration element - but with the excitement also went the old City's tendency to scuttle about losing its tail, because the new car didn't have the power. Until now. The City ZX I hear is a killer car, I'll get my hands on one next week, and being in the capital with oodles of road to play with, it'll be fun.
But, I'm supposed to be writing about the Civic. I know that Honda will put a derated engine in the car to deqal with the adultrated fuel that we get, but I'm sure that the engine will still have 120-130 horses, sufficient power and will be frugal to a fault. And heck, the car looks - well - looks amazing. I mean people who said that the new City looked too radical and won't sell in India - all of them being Auto magazine editors in India - well, the City is the highest selling car in its class - while not being the cheapest (Messrs. Ikon, Esteem and Indica) or the most fun (maybe the Fusion, and well, by SIAM classifications also the Optra 1.8 also falls in that segment). But I think the Civic will take the rug from under the Corrolla and kill the Octavia -0 of course thats because I feel that the General (despite flying magazine editors all over the world) has screwed up royally in India - but that is typical for General management.
The Ford Fiesta I guess will do damn well - particularly the Diesel version. But, if I had to buy a Diesel in that class I would rather buy an Octavia, and if I wanted a slightly smaller diesel - I'ld either wait till Maruti builds its new Diesel plant (and Hyundai plans to build one too by 2007) or Skoda launches the Fabia in mid to late 2006.
I don't know why, but I would never buy an American car - even though it might be just wearing an American brand (The Optra is Korean, the Fiesta was designed in Europe) - I don't know why, but somehow, naah. Stick to the Japanese brands out here - Maruti-Suzuki, Toyota and Honda (and while I won't buy a Hyundai - they do make decent cars).
OK, lets see the two cars - the Fiesta on top and the new Civic is below. Draw your own conclusions.

Achha, I see IIPM have been issuing the adverts all over the place for themselves, any response from the companies that they have mentioned?


wannamann said...

Neither. Look closely at the Hyundai Elantra and get a good trade in value for your old Accent in the bargain along with a long warranty.

Please also compare the "Indian" Fiesta with the one they just released in the UK.

thalassa_mikra said...

Here's what my boyfriend the car enthusiast would tell you. Rather a Skoda than a Honda, and rather a Honda than a Ford.

I personally would recommend a Honda more, simply because they are so reliable, fuel efficient and incredibly low-maintenance. But boyfriend thinks Skoda shares chassis and parts with Audi, so is a great way to own an Audi at a lower price.

For me, safety is a big issue, and I read somewhere that they've started doing crash tests in India as well. I know that Civic's crash test ratings are pretty good. Here are the ratings for the American market:

K said...

Wannamann - While I like the Elantra - I did Delhi (actually IFFCO Chowk) to the outskirts of Jaipur (Nahargarh Fort) in exactly two hours in the Petrol version of that car for an article for a travel magazine. It is great no doubt, but the car skittles a bit, and even the huge amounts of kit feel a bit, I don't know, downmarket... I would really like to see how the Honda looks and feels before I choose. And I would still take the Honda. And Ford has Indianised the car too much - but to be cheap they have to make it a bit well, worse than they do in the West.
T_M - the problem with the Skoda is that it hugely expensive to maintain - the diesel Ocatavia is a great car - the best diesel in its class. And while it is essentially a Golf in Czech clothing, I would wait for the new 1.4 Diesel Fabia coming and once they start manufacturing here, prices should come down a bit. So Honda again.
But then again, if I had to buy a car in India right now I would buy a Maruti Swift ZXi, fun, small and economical to run.