Those who know me personally or have been following my blog regularly, would perhaps know the fact that I’m simply crazy about automotive – especially superbikes and luxury-segment cars! Of course, I don’t call myself a so-called automotive guru, or a self-proclaimed car reviewer, but I can tell you one thing for sure – I can’t live without getting my hands on a new automotive every year! Yeah, you (or my wife) may call it a rare disorder, but then I certainly can’t live without test driving new automotive every year (or I daresay every month rather), and eventually I somehow end up buying the one I really like (no points for guessing that my wife is least bit happy about that!).
How it all started!
It all started with my TVS Apache, which I bought after I earned some money taking tuition for my juniors when I was in college, and then I started blogging simultaneously. I worked at call center, tried my hands at private-franchising businesses like Amway, and all possible ways of making money legally and ethically, and realized that my writing skills could fetch me most money. By the way, I wanted to buy an Alto instead of Apache at that time (lol). And, it seems so funny that today I can’t even think about stepping inside an Alto; it has been quite a journey in the last 5 years indeed!
My First Car – Chevy Spark!
The craving for buying a car started pretty soon, but since I had some big expenses lined-up for my marriage, I was forced to settle on a small little cute Chevy Spark as my first car. But, the day I bought it, I knew I won’t be happy for too long enough, and that “long enough” turned out to be just 16 months.
Before buying Spark, I did check out a few sedans like the Chevy Aveo, Hyundai Accent, and Ford Fiesta, but none of them really excited me (and my bro already had an Accent by the way), so I gave ‘em a pass, and picked Spark as an interim solution.
The Hunt for a Decent Sedan
As I contemplated selling Spark, this time I went to the C+ segment, and started looking at options like Skoda Laura, Toyota Altis, Honda Civic, but realized that again I won’t be happy for too long with any of them. Ultimately, I decided to look at the D & D+ segment, and looked at Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Skoda Superb, and even Toyota Fortuner (since I loved its hunky looks).
I had always loved Honda Accord, but I’m not a big fan of new shape of Accord, so I wanted to buy a used one, but my wife is totally against buying used cars, so I had to give it a pass (otherwise I had almost decided to buy my dream Black Accord during beginning of last year itself). And, when that was ruled out, I even checked out the BMW X1 at that point, but it was slightly heavy on my pocket at that point of time.
I was disappointed to know that Fortuner had a 4cylinder engine and barely offered 8kmpl mileage, and it certainly lacked the sophistication of an Audi, Merc or a Bimmer, though I still love its fierce looks; it’s probably something I’d call – “great to see, and drive, but not-so-great to buy!”.
Mitsubishi Cedia – the Next One to Join Our Automotive Family
I contemplated buying a Hyundai Sonata Transform, but it didn’t just seem to mesmerize me like a BMW 320d or a Merc C220 (of course I know it’s foolish to expect that out of a Sonata at sub-20lakh budget). And, I wrote that post on my sedan hunt, and when I figured out that the itching for a BMW 320d or Audi A4 won’t be subsided by a Sonata or any other D segment car, and my bro had got a Civic by then too… I soon realized that it was pointless to blow away my hard earned money on Sonata coz’ I’d eventually end up selling it within 2 years for a very poor price… I finally settled on a powerful, sporty Mitsubishi Cedia because it offered real value for money at sub-15 Lakhs budget, and the fact was that I also had plans of putting in nitrous and superchargers in it after it went out of warranty.
The Craving for a Superbike – Hyosung GT 650R Comes Home!
Come 2012, and by then I had started craving for a superbike – so I started test driving Harley Davidsons, Ninjas, Ducatis, and Suzuki GSXRs. I simply loved the Hayabusa, but found it to be way too heavy to be handled comfortably, and I’m not a big fan of Yamaha R1 (besides, the idiotic Yamaha dealers in Bangalore expect you to spend 15lakhs on R1 even without taking a test drive).
But, then I didn’t want to blow off 15-20lakhs on a superbike, because I was saving for a premium sedan or an entry level luxury SUV. And, after checking out all the options under 10 lakh bracket, I decided to buy the Hyosung GT 650R – and boy I just can’t tell you how happy I’ve really been, with the beast!
Every time I take her out on the Bangalore roads, it makes all the heads turn as she roars by.
Despite having a red Cedia, I decided to buy another red, just because red color simply looks the best on a superbike! And, I feel it was one of my best automotive purchases to date – money well spent!
And, the Saga Continues…
Come 2013 (oh by the way, 2013 hasn’t really come) and my condition seems to be getting worse – my hands are badly itching to get a power-performing car this time, and not settle on something that again won’t keep me happy for too long!
I contemplated converting my Cedia into a limo, or customizing it into a Evo X sort of thing, but then I figured out that it’d void the warranty, and then I’d never be able to sell it at a good price either, not to mention high costs and risks of all those mods.
I also realized that the resale value of Cedia is pretty poor, and I won’t get a good price after 2 years. So, this time my search directly started at the point where it ended last time around – BMW X1. But, before I could test drive the X1, I happened to come across an even more enticing option – the Audi Q3.
You can read my test drive of Audi Q3 and Audi A4 in separate post.
I must say Q3 is way over-priced at 39 lakhs, and the business edition of A4 is an awesome buy at Rs 35 lakhs.
But, of course I wasn’t prepared to cough out 30+ lakhs on a car without checking out all possible options – so I decided to check out the other options BMW X1, 320d, Merc Benz C220 and beyond!
Bimmer Has More Substance for Sure!
I had almost gotten this feeling that nothing would come anywhere close to the Audi A4 at that price, but I still decided to give a go to the entry-level Bimmers.
Sure thing, BMW is giving a great deal on the X1 at the moment (just 28.5Lakhs on-road), but if you’re not hell bent on not spending over 30lakhs, then I must say, you better watch out for better options.
Read my test drive of BMW X1 and 320d in separate post.
But, then I learned that Bimmer is clearing its old inventory, and I could get the 320d at just Rs31lakhs on-road, which was 4.5lakhs lower than Audi A4, and around 8 lakhs cheaper than the new 3 series that’s up for grabs at 38lakhs.
However, I pretty soon discovered that the old 3 series model that they’re pushing out for 31lakhs, lacked the bi-xenon headlamps, day-time running lights, iDrive (which is only available in new 3 series), 8 speed transmission, and lot of other goodies that are available on the top end version, but are standard on business edition of A4. So, it was a question of affordability vs. joy & satisfaction!
And, I was certainly not prepared to sacrifice on joy & satisfaction even after buying a 30L+ premium car!
That’s when I realized I should look at my other dream cars too – the Landrover Freelander 2, Audi A6, BMW 520d, and perhaps the Jaguar XF!
But, before actually crossing my budget, I still had another worthy contender to check out – the Mercedes Benz C200 Avant-garde. I almost forgot to mention this during the beginning of the series – I had taken the test drive of Mercedes Benz C220 a few weeks ago, but I didn’t really put it to a rough test, and rather enjoyed a pleasant drive through the expressway (Bannerghatta road to Mysore road NICE road highway drive and back).
Check out my test drive of Mercedes Benz C220.
If I had to buy just another luxury segment sedan for my company, then I would have blindly signed the check and booked the C220 right away, but being an adrenaline junkie, I was looking for something that truly vows me, not just something that comforts me!
So, I decided that perhaps I’d be better off checking out a Landrover Freelander 2, Audi A6, and a Jaguar XF.
I figured out that the entry level BMW 520d itself costs 52 lakhs, and it comes with a disappointing 4-pot cylinder, and the V6 powered 530d actually runs into 60L+ price bracket, and I could potentially be looking at Porsches, Landrovers, and even Jaguars at that price range. So, I ruled it out, and proceeded to Audi A6.
Although 180hp output, lengthier dimensions, and host of additional features enticed me to look at Audi A6, from the pricing point, I wasn’t too happy with the fact that I had to cough out Rs 52 lakhs on an Audi A6 (thanks to around 10 lakhs road taxes in Bangalore, which could pay for total price of my Cedia in Howrah, where road-taxes are under Rs2lakhs!), and I decided to check out the Freelander 2 and Jaguar XF.
I have always admired the VW Beetle, and Mini Cooper (especially the convertible), but then without having a luxury class sedan or SUV, it didn’t make sense for me to put my money on them at this point, and VW Passat certainly failed to excite me at Rs30+ lakh budget, so I just had a few more options open, which perhaps included a Porsche Cayenne/Boxster, but both of them were way beyond my current budget, because I am also buying an apartment too.
When I saw the Jaguar XF, I was totally blown away by the stunning looks, and once you step inside, there’s pure magic! I had read all about it on team-bhp forums, but when I experienced it personally, it was a truly magical experience to say the least.
I’ll be posting a detailed review shortly with some pics, but all I can tell you is that nothing comes anywhere close to a Jag. Earlier, Lamborghini Gallardo was the only dream car that I thought would be worthy of more one crore Rupees (in fact, it’s sadly two and half crores in Bangalore, once again due to insane 20% taxes here), and I loved the Range Rover Evoque too.
BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S Class were the other options in my list of dream cars worthy of 1 crore+ price-tag, but now it’s Jag all the way! The 3.0 XF diesel model certainly has all that you need from a car, but then when you’re really coughing our three quarters of a crore of Rupees, perhaps it makes sense to shell out another quarter and pick the top-end Jag XF 5.0 with the mammoth V8 engine that is truly a monster on Indian roads. Once again, you won’t find too many places to drive it at 200kmpl+, but the sheer luxury makes it worth the price.
I’m really tempted to bring home the Jag XF 5.0 V8 because I’m very confident that it’d be the ultimate cure to all my automotive cravings (though a cruiser superbike like the newly launched Harley Davidson Fatboy is still on my list, not to mention a decent SUV like Fortuner or Ford Endeavour), but that might mean that I’ll have to post-pone my plans of buying a luxury house for at least a good 10-12 months.
When I thought logically, I was extremely confused whether I should really cough out so much money on a car, whose value will actually depreciate very strongly over next 3-4 year, rather than a piece of property, which would appreciate (and probably double up, looking at the rates at which Bangalore realty prices are shooting up), and become a valuable asset for me. But, as they say some questions are answered using heart and not brain – and, when I ask my heart, it says nothing can really match up the joy, and pleasure of owning the Jag – not even an apartment in a posh locality! (I can’t move around in an apartment with my head high either!).
But in the end, after looking at the service & maintenance costs of a Jag, and its fuel appetite, I decided that I’d be better off with an Audi at this point (since it gives me the best of both worlds) – I’m still in a bit of fix whether I should really settle down on the A4 Premium edition or stretch to the entry level A6, and pinch my pockets a bit!!!
Update: I really loved a long drive of the A4 within the city today, and I really appreciate the professionalism of the Audi guys in Bangalore; kudos to Kiran from Audi Bengaluru, who organized a drive for me from Hosur road to Baghmane Tech Park so that even my wife could feel the car, and we certainly enjoyed the drive (though my wife isn’t any happier about buying a car even after experiencing the luxury of an Audi).
audi a4 black
I was all for white color initially, but then after the drive I guess I’m planning to buy a black A4 or a white A6 now 🙂
Update 2: Due to a fight with Audi guys, I ended up cancelling the book, and bought Volvo s80 3.2, as most of you already know, but just updating it here!