New Car

July 28, 2008

It all started when we were in Delhi. Amit sat in the driver’s seat of my sister’s car, a Fiat Adventure, and was thrilled to discover that it actually fit him. (For those who don’t know, Amit is 7 feet tall.) He then drove it, and loved it. If the car had been available on the market, he would have booked it that evening and that would have been that.

However, fortunately or unfortunately, Fiat has taken that model off the market. So, Amit spent 120% of the rest of the holiday researching/planning/talking/fantasising about buying a new car. (This includes time spent sleeping and dreaming.) It’s still not quite a week since we got back (and a week during which I’ve been sick as a dog, at that), and he’s test-driven four-and-a-half models – and two of them twice!

Wait a minute. Four-and-a-half? How does anyone test-drive four-and-a-half cars?

Well, it’s a longish story.

We started with the Maruti SX4. He loved it, I thought it was ok. Powerful, of course, compared to our current car, Wagon-R, but a rather hard ride (not nice in a car). But at least he fitted into it, and comfortably.

Next, he tried the Toyota Innova, which wasn’t so comfortable and we both didn’t like the thought of a car that was quite so big, even if it was available with a diesel option. (I didn’t test that car, I was too sick that day.)

Amit had called for test-drives of the Chevrolet Optra, the Optra SRV, and the Skoda Fabia, but none of these cars showed up. Chevy, in fact, was shockingly disinterested in making a sale.

Meanwhile we breezed past the Ford stable, nodding at the Fusion and glanced at Toyota’s Corolla, then found our eyes gliding past and resting longingly on the Camry, controlled ourselves and cruised on.

The next car we tried out was the Honda City, which was a much smoother ride than the SX4, but had a clearance so low you were virtually guaranteed to scrape your bottom (sorry, I mean your undercarriage) on a large percentage of the bumps that came your way, which, in Bangalore, are many. Still, it was a good ride and we were having a tough time deciding between the City and the SX4, when Amit threw a large-sized spanner in the works.

Honda Civic

It was quite a bit outside our budget, but then, we’d already had one heady and exhilarating fling with a car outside our budget: Maruti’s Grand Vitara, which was waaaaaay outside our budget but which, we’d convinced, we could somehow afford. We’d gone to the Maruti showroom to look at the various colours of the SX4, when, naturally, seeing how big it is, it caught our eye. Amit promptly sat himself behind the wheel and would not be budged until they promised to get him a vehicle for test-drive. That – the half of the four-and-a-half test-drives – never happened. But it was a great romance as long as it lasted and it was only the dismal mileage it promised that prevented us from pursuing it further.

The Honda Civic was a different story, though. Its fuel efficiency was only a tad worse than the City and quite comparable with the SX4. (As an aside, the City is a better name than the Civic, though both are quite unimaginative. Neither is as bad as SX4, though.)

It didn’t take very long for Amit to put in the request for a test-drive of the Civic, and Honda promptly drove one halfway across town for us. I got into the driver’s seat and – oh boy! Before I had driven it a km, I just knew this was the car we would be buying. Amit had already returned from his test drive with ill-concealed excitement all over his face, so I knew we were on to a good thing. That, plus the fact that his test-drive lasted an hour!

Not that that tells you much. I was so excited by the car that I decided I didn’t even need to test-drive it much – a 2 km loop and I almost headed home to do the high-fives. I’d have time enough to drive when we got our own, I thought, and the sooner the better. Then I thought, “Oh, heck, no. When we get our own it’ll be Amit doing all the driving. I bet he’ll go to office even on weekends just so he can drive the car. So I better get a good long drive in now,” and I kept going.

The car is just a beauty. It looks absolutely sexy has a deadly dashboard, and the engine is a beast. Its ground clearance, the one factor against its sibling City, is 170 mm, the same as our Wagon-R, which never worried us. Its pick-up and power steering are fantastic, climate control is chic, music system is cool, but the best thing about it, no doubt, is the complete smoothness of the drive. As good as sex? Yes. Well, no, actually, as good as ice cream. (Sex versus ice cream? Come on – that’s a no-brainer.)

Ok, if you guys out there have driven something better, like say a Porsche or a Beamer or something, then you’re sure to be wondering what I’m going on about, but, sorry guys, this is the best I’ve ever driven, and don’t forget, I’m comparing with a humble Wagon-R. So bear with me while I gloat over it a minute.

I came home grinning, to find Amit waiting for me, grinning. We were in love. Now, we only had to work out how to bring this baby home.

Oh and – there’s one little problem. Amit’s long, long legs didn’t quite seem to fit under the steering wheel. What are we going to do about that?

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