That is the question that I posed to a bunch of rather erudite gentlemen and which I now pose to any and all of you who happen to drop by here and have an opinion to offer me on which is the better car to buy - the Fiat Palio 1.9D ELX or the Ford Ikon (1.3) Flair.
I know, I know...I have committed the cardinal sin of comparing cars from different segments. And to make things worse, I'm asking for a comparison between a petrol and a diesel. But what I'm looking for is individual driving / usage opinions about each of the cars rather than a one-on-one feature by feature comparison.
After a couple of months of research and deliberation about which car I'd like to be behind the wheel of, its boiled down to these two. I'm over 6 feet tall and that rules out most of the Maruti models for me. Except maybe for the Esteem (way-too-old-wine in an only so-so new bottle) and the WagonR (which I think is an accident, looks-wise). I'm not a fan of the Xing and my fiancee hates the Indica. The Indigo's okay in the initial couple of years, but I'm not too sure about things staying that way.
Both these cars fall within my budget as I see it now, which is sub-Rs. 5 lakhs, ex-showroom Chennai. If you're asking yourself why I haven't considered the Petra Petrol 1.6, well I did. Till the Sundaram Chennai guy told me that the average mileage is about 8 to 10 kms per litre. I also have the Getz somewhere in the periphery, but am yet to hear from anyone a compelling reason to buy that car.
Looks wise, I think both the cars are high up the eye-candy scale. But I will admit this - the Palio is an outright looker and I have nursed a whopping crush on the car for quite a while now. I keep telling my fiancee that if I do end up not buying that car, it'd be like the secret lover I always wanted but could never have! If I am considering the Ikon, it's only because it's a close second-best. And probably a little more fail-safe than the Palio. So it's a little bit of the heart versus the head battle here.
It's going to be my first car and so I'm not looking to be selling for some time. So resale is not really at the top of my priority list right now. That's in case you were going to tell me about the much-heard-of rock-bottom resale value of the Palio. What I will be looking at are ride comfort, the occasional rush from a clip down an empty road (I love a good drive as much as (or maybe a little more than) the next guy), safety, reasonable fuel efficiency and reasonable maintenance effort and cost. What else is there to look for, do I hear you ask?
Questions to a few Palio D owners have unearthed the fact that the average mileage is about 12-13 kms to the litre in city traffic and about 18 on the highway. Overdrive Magazine's test drive of the Petra D (which evidently has the same engine) had the car gave them 23 on the NH. I don't really have mileage figures on the Flair yet. Let me know if you have anything to tell me about the fuel efficiency of the Ikon.
I'm going to be driving about 15 kms average in the city on a daily basis which may change to about 60 kms (25 of those being down the relatively wide and empty stretch of the old ECR Road in Chennai) in a day if my office relocates, which is rather likely within the next 6 months or so. Which of the cars is easier to handle in city traffic? The occasional weekend drive down to Pondicherry or Bangalore will happen about once a month. In terms of past driving experience, I drive a Maruti 800 and the old family heirloom - a Fiat 118 NE - from time to time. I love the solid, nothing-can-shake-me confidence that the old Fiat lady gives me, even when I'm pushing her harder than I should be.
I haven't been able to give either of the shortlisted cars a whirl yet. I look forward to test driving both of them within the next couple of weeks (and of course regale you with a report on the experience). Am pretty sure to make my own inferences from that, so don't let my not having driven them affect what you have to say about either of the cars.
So bring it on, people. Leave me a comment or send me an email. Make me believe! =)