I have been using a Maruti Suzuki Alto for the last six years and travel an average of 300 km per month. For my limited usage, I believe a petrol hatchback ought to be enough. However, I need the car to have decent space at the rear, decent leg room, ample boot space and great ground clearance as well. After evaluating the Hyundai i20, Maruti Suzuki Swift, Volkswagen Polo, Tata Indica Vista and Toyota Etios Liva, I finally have decided on the Fiat Punto. I have heard that the Punto will get a makeover next year. Is it a good buy at this stage?
Sridhar Rao, via email
One word of advice: bargain hard. The Punto is a tough, no-nonsense, great fun-to-drive hatch. Agreed the 1.2-litre engine doesn't produce much power and the fuel economy isn’t the best, yet it makes for a great package. With the facelift expected in 2013 as you rightly pointed it out (and we think the Evo doesn’t look as hot as the current Punto), then you must get yourself a great deal and buy the car.
I plan to trade my two-year old Ford Figo diesel for an automatic sedan. But given the price and sales statistics of D segment cars I have dropped the idea. I decided instead to buy a pre-owned BMW 3 Series, which fits my budget of Rs 15 lakh. Is it a good idea to opt for a diesel car or a petrol car given the fact that I will retain the car for another five years?
Pradeep Manoharan, via email
Since you are concerned about resale value too, a diesel is best considered, as long as you do intend to drive a fair bit (about 10,000 km or more) a year. Also, diesels in this country, especially in the luxury category, tend to depreciate less than their petrol siblings. This has got to do with demand-supply equation and nothing else. Though, it’s entirely possible to get something exciting to drive, like a 330i or 325i for 320d money, with possibly even less kilometres on the clock, considering both cars are of similar vintage. So if you run by your head more than your heart, the 320d will work fine, plus it's good fun to drive. If you love high-revving engines and consider yourself to be a petrolhead, then a nice, naturally aspirated straight-six petrol (they don't make them any more on the 3 Series) is what you certainly should consider.
I would like to buy a diesel car within a budget of Rs 10 to Rs 13 lakh. I am planning on buying an automatic. Could you please recommend one? Are there any new diesel cars that will be launched by April or May 2013?
K R Selvakumar, via email
When it comes to diesel automatics, for your budget, there is the Hyundai Verna. It is a feature laden car that has an excellent diesel engine that is powerful as well as frugal. The Verna is smart to look at and comfortable to drive, and it offers a decent ride for rear seat passengers. There is nothing that is expected around April-May 2013 that we know of at this moment.
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