So, our search for a new family car has begun. I have been given the responsibility of taking a few cars around before dad completely disregards my Highly-Credible-YouTube-Inspired expert reviews; to choose a dull, boring metal body with the least horses which won't go round a corner without running into a tree, causing even more global warming.
So I decided to share my research here because I have come to a conclusion, "The driver's seat in ALL family sedans on offer today is the last place you want to be in." Awkward driving positions, bumpy ride, heavy bodies are the only adjectives I could use to describe any of the cars.
WHAT CARS DID YOU DRIVE AKSHAY?
Let me begin by telling you that my expectations were based on our current car, the Hyundai Verna (which you can read about here). Here are 2 cars out of the 5 I shortlisted to drive:
1) Skoda Superb
Coming in at INR 35.35L, all the sales guy for this "sports" luxury sedan could tell me was, that it offers something like 55 sensors, 8 speakers, panoramic sunroof, automatic gearbox, DRLs, alloy wheels, financing options, autonomous driving mode, 4 different ways to open the trunk/boot, the mileage etc, everything that lists far lower on my checklist than "what does it feel like at the wheel?"
The highest variant offers a 7 speed automatic gearbox with 1.8TSI 132kW engine. The driving position was fairly good. Although the seat feels comfortable, the ride is bumpy. Very bumpy. The pedals were heavy. The horses under the hood felt lame. For a car meant for city driving, my right leg felt tired after about 30 minutes of cruising.
Evidently the car is meant for buyers who like to be in the backseat. Therefore, to be thorough with my research, I had my friend in the backseat to judge how the car coped with bumps along the road. The feedback wasn't impressive. Even on the smoother bits on our route, my friend would have spilled her coffee.
So, here we have a car, that I wouldn't buy as the primary driver nor to be in the backseat. Even with all it's backseat amenities like an ugly coat hanger, cupholders, universal tablet holders and aircon vents to go along with some modern tech, the car felt heavy and unimpressive for it's price.
2) Honda Civic
This 1.8L semi-Luxury Sports Sedan, the younger sibling to the Civic Type R was launched in India in March earlier this year. Priced between INR18,00,000 and 21,30,000 ex showroom, the Civic aims to dethrone the king in the segment, the Skoda Octavia. The driving position is nice. The seats are comfortable. The CVT gearbox is not my favourite transmission and the plastics in the interiors feel cheap. The top model offers a sunroof, lane departure warning and a camera on the left side mirror for those tricky narrow lanes.
The 1.8L churns out a 140HP at 6500 with 174nM at 4300rpm. The car has 3 driving modes- Eco, Normal and Sport. The steering does stiffen up in sport mode and the engine sounds angier. The suspensions, however feel the same over bumps in all 3 modes. The car doesn't feel much different even with the Electronic Safety Control off.
The backseats have enough legroom even with the driver's seat pushed all the way back. The cabin looks alright from the rear seat- I personally see beige interiors give a much classier feel to the car as well as make the car feel bigger. The ride in the second row was fair. The boot is big enough for 3 large suitcases. The car can be a practical family sedan as well as a class-appropriate weekend toy.
The car overall has a sporty feel and I can imagine how the Type R is the one of the fastest hot-hatches on sale today. Annoyingly, I doubt car enthusiasts on Indian Roads will see the hottest Honda hatch anytime in the near future. So would I buy the warm luxury cocooned namesake for its price? I'm not quite sure.
Even today, the Hyundai Verna which has served us faithfully for the last 5 years has a sense of fun about it. All the cars I test drove this week can be described as: slow, bumpy or heavy. Which car would you buy to drive the kids to school at 8 and leave smoking tire marks at 8.15? Talk to me in the comments!