Expert's Guidance

Essentially a luxury car with classy looks and comfortable interiors , it is also a family car. The built is better than most other cars in this class with an equally good ride quality. The Laura is built on the Volkswagen platform and is a substitute for the Octavia in the international market. 

Benefits include good fuel economy,reduced emissions and substantially increased performance. However, though the engine delivers on most fronts, noise control is poor, specially in the diesel car .Moreover, the staid design and the plastic chrome coating on the gear fades and burnishes with age.

Make sure to check the suspension when inspecting th tyres. The Laura has an excellent suspension so if the car has a bumpy ride,expect to make repairs to the suspension , which can cost you around Rs. 15000. so make sure that the car does not require immediate attention to suspension.

The side mirrors cost around Rs. 10000 and are a prize catch for the vandals  to sell in the spares market. So haggle hard with the seller , if any are missing.

In case of electrics, check the electrically-operated seat , since spares aren't easily or cheaply available.Also check the stereo display which doubles up as a parking sensor.

The optimum in case of a used Laura would be to use it for two years and then resale it for 25 percent less than the price you paid for it.

Prices that are seen in the market for different models are:

Year     Rs.
2006    14,25,000
2007    16,00,000

basic, square shaped and utterly out-dated in comparison to the current swish set of SUVs , but car enthusiasts would beg to differ. Qualities such as high ground clearance, low-range gearbox, grippy tyres and a hoot to drive make it a quintessential SUV , also a firm favorite of the armed forces. 

The Gypsy was launched in 1985 and hasn't changed much in terms of basic structure since then. The body frame is bolted on the antiquate leaf spring suspension , which ensures that the smallest of bumps will filter through to the cabin. But the worst part is that it only comes with the petrol engine.

Stay away from Gypsys with Nissan and Toyota diesel motors are spares are difficult to find. Be on the lookout for noise which indicates a loose or worn-out body mounting bolt.Some gypsys also wander off from a straight line: this means that the leaf spring bushes are worn out.

Also checkout the car for corrosion ,which the Gypsy is not very good at avoid . Key areas are around the door hinges, the bottom end of the front doors and the sills.

The Gypsy comes without a factory-fitted AC, so if the car you are looking at has one it will be aftermarket fitting. keep the AC on for a while to check for consistent cooling along with any water leaks inside the cabin , which will be irritating to fix.

If you are planning to buy one with a soft top , it will require a replacement every two years which will cost you Rs. 5000.

Be sure that the car is not an army discard , otherwise it will require a major overhaul. The best part about the Gypsy is that spares are easily available and light on the pocket.

Prices that are currently seen in the market for different models  are:

Year     Rs.
2001    1,60,000
2002    1,90,000
2003    2,50,000
2004    3,00,000

A slow selling car will automatically translate into lower values in the used car market.You can buy a Sonata Embera for the price of a Honda Civic or a Toyota Corolla, cars which are a segment below the Embera. However, the Sonata does not have the same upmarket image as that of its rival, Honda Accord. 

The Embera has strong , clean lines and looks handsome from all angles , the minus side being that it does not have a very involving drive. It has a big boot and split seats for added convenience.The  factor of leather upholstery and soft-touch dashboard add to the luxurious feel.

Watch out for any body damage and scruffy cabin and patchy alloys and unaligned suspension ,all of which will be expensive to fix.Ensure that all electrics work well, especially the automatic climate control as it could turn out to be an expensive job to fix later. The spare parts are easily manageable and are cheapest in this segment.

A must while buying is th full service history which is essential to enjoy the balance of the oiginal warranty.

Current prices for different models are :

Year    Rs.
2005    7,25,000
2006    9,00,000
2007    11,00,000


The virtuous first car fast replacing the unassuming Maruti 800. Its compact dimensions, light controls and sprightly performance ensure that it is a hoot to drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

But the problem with the Alto is a fair degree of intrusive engine noise from the small 796 c engine. The Alto delivers on solid build with a considerably more reassuring feel than a Wagon R or Zen .But the time honored Maruti problem of boy rattles still persists in the Alto. The suspension and the driver axle won't be a cause of concern before the car hits 70,000 km.

The main cause of concern will be the brakes as the pads will require a change after every 15,000-20,000 km . Electrics are top-notch and not a cause of worry. This car remains rush-free even after years of ownership.

As a rule, the AC cools the cabin quite well so if there is any inconsistency in the cooling, check the AC coils or compressor.If the car has any problems then be sure to haggle on the price due to the same.

Cabin plastics are not the best around and tend to loose their sheen soon but a decent dose of polish is sure to fix that up.The car is a bit compact and more appropriate for singles than for families.

The prices of the body parts are not at all exorbitant and are easily available.Overall, Alto is a sensible and reliable city commuter and a good choice as a first car.

Current prices for the different models are:

Year     Rs.
2003    1,60,000
2004    1,90,000
2005    2,30,000
2006    2,60,000

If you like to drive yourself around , then the Ford Fiesta is the car for you.The car is a sheer delight to drive carrying forward the Ikon's 'josh' legacy. 

Both the engines deliver power in a smooth and effortless way and develop a decent amount of grunt from low down in the power band which translates into fewer gearshifts in the city.

The petrol motors tend to have a throttle body problem, so a jerky throttle could well be a costly affair to repair out of warranty. Be alert to check whether the car makes a loud screeching noise which will indicate a required change in the time belt. Do not miss to check the brakes. If you need to press the pedal fully before it actually functions chances are that you will end up spending a considerable amount on the same.

The Fiesta's body shell is tough and built-to-last , but check signs for shunt.Replacing body panels can be expensive.

Another concern for buyers is the economy of the petrol variants , which has been observed to be lower than the class leader Honda City ZX. Getting the injectors cleaned would marginally improve the efficiency.

While the cost of spares isn't the cheapest in the class,Ford has managed to reduce them substantially .The boot is decent, but interiors fall short of the high quality seen in the Honda City.Currently only a handful of Fiestas are available in the used car market.

Prices of the different models are approximately as under:

Year    Rs.
2005    4,90,000
2006    5,20,000
2007     5,60,000











The original SUV has been blessed with sheer road presence and one of the most comfortable interiors in Indian cars. The near two-tonne weight means that the 90bhp non-common rail engine is overworked. 

Make sure to listen for any funny noises from the engine, which indicate the turbo is on its last leg. Stay away if there are signs of any oil spillage near the turbo unit. Also, check that the exhaust is not emitting a thick black cloud of smoke. which will require serious repairs to the engine.

Another thing to make sure that the power steering unit is working fine and there are no oil leakages near the power steering unit. If there are excessive thudding noises from the rear , chances are the suspension arms are damaged and will need to be replaced. The Safari suffers from chronic unreliable electrics.

Also the Safari's body panel tend to rattle , especially the rear boot door.

It is advisable to stay away from the petrol Safari as it delivers a very pitiful mileage.

Prices currently available in the market are :

Year    Rs.
2003    3,40,000
2004    3,90,000
2005    4,60,000
2006    5,70,000

Ford Ikon 1.6 is not manufactured any more and it is known to a tad expensive to maintain , thanks partly to its lower than expected mileage. 

Before you buy one make sure that the car is in a good condition as the spares and parts are expensive to replace.If the car pulls to one side , cjances aare that the suspension might be damaged. If there is a screech you will need to change the timing belt. Replacing the suspension will cost you around Rs.20000-25000.

The Ikon is a good car to drive .The fabric inside the car tends to soil rather fast, but nothing a good vaccum job can't alter.

Make sure to check the car for shunts , especially the rear bumper and tailgate, which due to poor visibility frequently collides with electric pillars and large boulders while reversing.

Its spares are costlier compared to Accent and Esteem , two cars selling for roughly the same price.

The Ikon 1.6 is a dream car if you enjoy driving and are on a tight budget.

Prices currently available in the market are :

Year    Rs.
2003    1,90,000
2004    2,30,000
2005    2,90,000
2006    3,60,000

This SUV makes immediate sense due to its quick-witted diesel engine , even though its ride and handling leave a lot to be desired for. It is largely trouble-free though a few things are required to be checked before buying one. 

Check to see if there is any oil around the engine seals or the cylinder heads. Inspect the area around the turbo unit for oil spillage, if you see one , walk away as it surely will be an expensive repair.Also see that the exhaust does not emit dark black smoke.

Overheating is a problem observed in some original Scorpios, a problem which was rectified in later models. The clutch was also a problem point on some of the earlier cars.

Check to see that all the electrical systems are working fine , especially the power windows and check the fused box for replaced fuses. Check the AC , because any problems could hit your wallet to the extent of Rs. 7,000.

The plastic trim inside the cabin is not very exciting and feels cheap but the seat fabrics are decent .The Scorpio also suffers from a limited row space , so it dosen't score too high on the comfort front.

Prices currently available in the market are :

Year                   Rs.
2003                4,50,000
2004                5,25,000
2005 (CRDe)    6,50,000
2006 (CRDe)    7,80,000

The Ford Fusion is one such car which blends many segments into one. It can be a practical small estate, a big hatch or even a fun driver's car. 

There are a few used Fusions in the market and so there are low priced and make good wallet sense.

The suspension is inherently clunky and this increases with the car's age. keep an ear out for any noises in the front suspension .practicality is the Fusions's strong point. On folding the rear seat you get a small estate which can acomodate a considerable amount of luggage.

Check the AC for cooling consistency , cause replacing the coil will cost you around Rs. 6000. The cars responsive nature and precise gearbox make it a joy to ride. However, the Achilles heel is the expensive spares and not-too-great fuel efficiency. Its spare price basket is the most expensive in its class largely due to the expensive body panels.

Also check the wiper fluid motor and break/headlight fuses to be on the safer side as generally the electricals are trouble-free.Also some cars are prone to dashboard rattles .

But the cause of concern is that it will be difficult to find a buyer in the case of re-selling.

Prices currently available in the market are :

Year     Rs.
2005    4,10,000
2006    4,90,000

Maruti Swift : Its a car that's great to look at , great interiors , drives and handles well and is hugely desirable. A nearly new Swift is available for as much as a new Santro. 

The Swift petrol has a light clutch , which also one of the smoothest. Make sure that the body parts don't need replacement as its spare are the costliest in this segment. The Swift suffers from body rattle , a perennial Maruti problem.

Also keep out an ear for any drumming noise which indicates problems in the front suspension. To check the shock absorbers push the car down on the bonnet and see whether it comes up freely or not.Electrics on this car are highly reliable.

The engine which is the same as that of the Esteem, is proved and tested and hence does not require more than routine servicing.

Overall, the Swift is a hugely reliable and dependable car - a perfect city companion. Another plus point is that due to its high level of desirability it will depreciate less than the other Marutis.

Prices that are seen in the market are as under:

Year     Rs.
2005    3,20,000
2006    3,60,000

The Passat's German engineering can be truly appreciated on the open expressways.Comforatbly ensconced in the beautifully built cabins gives the feeling of luxury.

This executive saloons's ability to cruise at high speeds all day long, its tank-like build quality and its rock-steady high speed manners are a revelation after spending time in lesser cars.The car operates best at 33 psi in the rear tyres.

The soft red glow in the cabin is very soothing. Another useful feature is the memory seat and mirrors.However, the auto-hold button is placed on the wrong side of the gearlever.

Also, when the car is only used on the highways , the oil level light flashes much before the time for service.

So , its mostly upsides with a few downsides for the Passat.

Spark's best feature is the size which makes good use of the gaps in traffic that most other cars can't slip through. It is a full 100 mm narrower than the Hyundai i10 and navigating the traffic becomes that much easier, specially if you are stuck in rush-hour traffic in any of the metro cities of India and are rushing to meet a deadline. 

The car is cute and cheery , but what people underestimate is the fact that the Spark is so well tuned to the urban environment , it thrives in difficult traffic situations.However,the motor is not as responsive as that of the Santro.

Another plus point is the parking. Really tight spots which you might have ignored before now are now easily used to park the Spark.

The weak poinst of the car are the central console , which is a constant pain in the knee.The driver's seat slopes forward so your thighs are supporting very little of your weight .

Other issues are that the hatch refuses to open with a keyand sometimes the motor stutters at idle and the fluttering is felt through the accelerator paddle.

But the car is perfectly suited to urban conditions and has super fuel economy and good comfort. What more can one ask for?

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