August 03, 2011

Test driving away

Our trusty little red Indica is over seven years old, with not a whole lot of miles on it, still runs perfectly, never given us problems. The ride is noticeably bumpier than before, and there are quite a few more creaks, is all. Both of which we can probably fix. Still, our one complaint remains the space for luggage, which is really minimal. Especially on the long drives we like to do -- MP, Delhi, Coorg, Kodaikanal, Goa, etc -- it gets a little tight. Forces us to pack light, which is good, but tight.

So while we're in no hurry to buy, we've been test-driving a few cars. And so we're getting an up-close and personal look at the methods of car salesmen. I'd forgotten how much fun that is. Some notes:

* One young man started by asking how we will use the car. Almost before I had started to reply, he was saying: "Perfect! Then this car will be ideal for you!" I said, we feel our current car's trunk is small. "Perfect! Then this car will be ideal for you!" I said, we like going out of town. "Perfect! Then this car will be ideal for you!"

Your car sucks, I wanted to say. Just to see if he would reply: "Perfect! Then this car will be ideal for you!"

* I've been asking each guy who shows up, do you have a model without power windows and central locking? I always feel those are more things to go wrong in a car. Memories of the downpour of July 26 2005, when plenty died because they could not get their power windows, now without power, open. I also like the small mental stimulation of making sure the windows are up and the doors are locked, without a button push doing the job.

Hearing this request, one man wrinkled his nose and said, we have manual windows and locking on our "J" model -- "but don't take that, sir!" Why not, I asked. "It is our lowest model, and usme prestige nahin hai sir!" ("There's no prestige in it.").

Prestige being, I shall presume, an option like every other option.

* Another man chose to reply to this query about manual windows by email. I can do no better than quote his message here, in full: "There is no such variant of [our brand] with manual windows setting. Although you have provisions to break the glass in case of any emergency."

Well, that's a relief. Heartfelt gratitude to this particular manufacturer for providing this particular "provision" in their cars.

* This same man also said they were temporarily out of stock of the particular model we test-drove. "When it comes in, sir, I'll call you." OK I said, and was about to hang up. "In the meantime, sir, you can please feel free to buy from our competition." You mean other dealers of your brand? I asked. "No sir, I mean other brands."

The not-so-subtle implication: "Look, we want to give the impression that our cars are in great demand, and therefore we don't really need your business. Thus be prepared for no negotiation on the price."

I replied by email. I will certainly look at the competition, I said. Especially because I'm in absolutely no hurry to buy, but even more so given your proclivity for silly games.


Ugich Konitari said...

When we retired our 38 year old Fiat, we looked for a car with requirements of good boot space , and decent leg room in the back seat so that nobody's knees got crushed when a 6ft driver adjusted the seat. The Indigo satisfied on all counts. We also did not want automatic windows and locking. So we got automatic windows only in front, manual at the back, and no magic electronic door locking that sounds like someone throwing up. We just manually turn the key.

I dont know why the dealer doesnt allow you the combinations you want. We;ve done some trips last monsoon in Kokan in the car and there were no problems whatsoever.

Dilip D'Souza said...

UK, I forgot to mention that the other complaint with the Indica is that over long distances the driver's position for me, 6 ft tall, gets a little hard on my knees. There's no easy way to stretch my leg out fully. So that's something else we're looking for if we buy another car. My impression is that the Indigo has pretty much the same front legroom space as the Indica. True?

Yes, I don't know why it's so hard to get us what we want. The guy who said not to buy the "J" model also said that if we wanted it, there would be a 5-6 month wait. For a model with manual everything? 5-6 months? I'm not interested!

Anonymous said...

Well more profit and enough buyers for the automatic stuff. You either have to pay more or wait for your special order. This is a common situation in real commercial life. Also why do you make fun of the car salesman? He is just trying to be pleasant and do his job. Luckily you don't need to work like him.

Ugich Konitari said...

DD, 50% of the folks who drive in my family are over 6 ft tall. So this was a big factor when we decided on which car to buy. Strangely, another factor was that we were looking for an Indian make, so that rules out all the fancy foreign makes. I have driven an Indica and an Indigo, and I think the latter is a boon for tall types, in the drivers seat as well as all the passenger areas.

The other great thing is that it has an extremely nice boot space, meant for families traveling with lots of luggage.

I dont know why the wait should be 6 months. We got ours in 1 month, and then too people said that it could have earlier. Send an email to Tata Motors and ask. Maybe it depends on the part of the city where the dealer is. Ours was at Saki naka/L and T. Good luck to you.

Mayank said...

You really looking for manual windows and no central locking. Well you better buy one before it gets completely phased out. Just kidding. But its interesting to note how different customers can be. No wonder the sales guy got all muddled up with your ask. Never been a great fan of Tatas myself. I hope your search for perfect car culminates soon.