March 2009
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When upgrading your existing car

The options available to a buyer have increased many-fold from early days where India had only the Fiat & Ambassador to choose from.This post attempts to help a buyer who already has owned a vehicle for some time and is looking to upgrade/change the vehicle. The way society/your peer group works you are expected to go on a path of A segment to B segment to C to D each  time you look for a new vehicle. This approach is fine for someone with money and not very clear requirements and just wanting to ape the peer group.

 This post is not for them but for someone who has a budget limiting them and for with a lot of unclear requirements. This is for someone having to squeeze out the last bit of value from their hard earned money.

Most usually you are changing your vehicle because you need more space. Be clear if you want interior space or luggage space or space for more passengers. 

If you just need interiors that are roomy you can choose from a large tall-boy or B+ segment hatch which is still cheaper than most sedans. (  Hyundai GetzHyundai I10,  Maruti Suzuki Wagon-R,  Maruti Suzuki Swift ).

 2nd generation Suzuki Swift(2004 - 2007)
Image via Wikipedia

If you need luggage space then a vehicle with a proper boot is required while if you need to ferry many people a mini-van /SUV is required.

Longer drives with luggage and mainly adult passengers may need a sedan or  SUV / MUV while 2 adults and 2 children a hatchback may still be fine.

Frequent Long trips/road trips for multiple days warrant a look at SUV / MUV/minivans. (  Mahindra Bolero , Mahindra Scorpio, Mahindra Xylo , Tata Sumo, Tata Sumo Grande , Tata Safari, Toyota Innova, Chevrolet Tavera )

2006 Toyota Innova

Image by Shanghai Daddy via Flickr


 Is there a vehicle that appeals to you in the list meeting all or most of your requirements? If there is you are lucky – just take a test drive to make sure.

If you had issues/missed features in your prior vehicle try looking for options that overcome those limits. For e.g. you didn’t have power windows & central locking on your first car and got tired of rolling up the windows and checking the doors were locked each time – you should look at a car with all of these.

Choose a color that you yearned for while you were driving your previous vehicle and for better exterior finishes. Maybe try a switch from a metallic color to non metallic color or vice versa. Or try a bright/bold color after a dull one. (I have made such a switch from driving boring silver cars one after the other to bright red and bright blue –

Tata Sumo
Image via Wikipedia

makes finding your car in a large parking lot very easy).

Look for better quality/ looking/feeling interiors. Nowadays beige or two tone interiors are available instead of the usual dull grey. If your car will need to withstand a lot of rough use you may be better off with grey interiors since beige ones look dirty with rough use.

Other points:

  • Choose better/more solid overall build quality.
  • Choose more comfortable/ supportive seats.
  • Choose a smoother shifter & lighter clutch
  • Go in for safety options like ABS / Airbags where you previously had none.
  • Look for better mileage.
  • Check out diesels and LPG / CNG options.Try the pure electrics if you dare. The Hybrid Honda Civic if you have money to spend is a great choice.
  • Better ASS and lower cost of spares.
  • Choose brands/models that are popular to ensure best resale value.
    Gas storage in a car.
    Image via Wikipedia
  • Try looking at gently used vehicles if you want larger and costlier vehicles than fits in your new car budget.
  • When buying new look out for periodic deals/special edition vehicles that contain key features & accessories at attractive prices.
  • If your budget allows go in for the highest trim level you can afford. You get the amount back in your resale value when you sell the car years later.
  • Also look at vehicles 1 lakh below and 1 lakh above your budget. Because sometimes you may ignore perfect options that are a few ten thousands over your budget or maybe just under as well.

If you have any questions or comments on this post please do comment and let me know how this can be improved.

 Updated: 19-Mar-2009

Just noticed Maruti Suzuki has a cool feature on their website which lets you see the entire spectrum of models they have by seating capacity, body style and price. Here are some screenshots:

  (You can click on them to go to the site)Maruti List 1

  Maruti List 2

 No other Indian OEM has this kind of complete view of their product range available for their customers to easily see. This is what I was searching for an upgrade path or plan. It makes it very clear to a prospective customer to determine their options from the variety that Maruti Suzuki provides.


Updated 27-Mar-09:  Tata Motors has a similar feature letting you choose from their range. You have to search to find it though:  . Small issue I noticed is they dont include the Safari or the Sumo’s in it.


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