The used car conundrum

By Chirag Saraswati
In Rants
Jun 3rd, 2014

Car searching is a bit like soul searching. There is so much to choose from, so many options that it’s a journey in its own right. I started this search after I sold off my 7 Year old WagonR, deciding it was time for an upgrade.
The Wagon gave me my first taste of offroading, not an ideal first choice if you ask a whole bunch of pros, but I made it work for me.  Handbrake turns scare seasoned drivers in low slung cars, but my connection with it was such, that I managed to somehow not roll over. I knew the limits of the car by always being near them, and in retrospect it’s miraculous that my trust of those instincts didn’t fracture my lifeline.  The amazing places we saw together.

Wagon R in the himalayas

my Wagon R in the himalayas

Towards the end of our joint journey however, I knew it was time to part. It would break down too often, the mileage would put the most esteemed gas guzzlers to shame, and it just didn’t feel like I could continue enjoying driving it anymore, I needed to push the envelope. I remembered feeling this way about something else in the past- My Humble Givson Guitar came to light. I reached a certain point in my playing life where it just couldn’t do what I wanted it to. I knew it was time for an upgrade, and the payoff was immense.  It’s sort of like that all over again, but my transition hasn’t reached fruition yet.


I’m surrounded by a myriad of options. Mid way during my tryst with Volvo XC adventure, discovering I was rather good off the road in bigger cars, I had decided I wanted a Suzuki Gypsy to answer my call of the wild, but then my friend @Sarthak offered me a test drive in his Civic A/T on a chance visit in Delhi. I had almost accepted the dodgyness of the Gypsy, but then that happened.

My friend with his Civic

My friend with his Civic

Fuck me, I thought, as the Rev limiter kicked in. It sounded like a dream.  Why doesn’t everybody (who owns a Civic) always drive like that?  My good friend @Jes, who also is a Civic man insisted the car was exactly as dream like as I thought it was. Plus the looks of it. I was sold. The Honda Civic is pure art if you ask me, the sharp looking headlights, the angry face, the long hood, the low slung stance, and best of all, the engine note. Any petrolheads wet dream.  Pushed the right buttons, if you ask me.
I wouldn’t say it’s perfect though.

  1. As pretty as they are, the headlights are USELESS.
  2. Most people who were selling the car at low prices had experimented (unsuccessfully) with CNG kits.
  3. The Ground Clearance is almost a negative number.  This would mean there would be places where I won’t be able to take the car. Most of Himachal then.
  4. FWD. Fucking assholes, car manufacturers. Buggers won’t make cars fun for us.  Civic is FF(Front engine, FWD) the world over, so can’t complain I guess.
  5. Steering Numbness.  For the short while that I drove it,  I felt disconnected to the road, the Steering wheel gave me no Feedback at all.
  6. Cornering. My personal opinion, suspension needs tweaking. Body roll on high speed cornering.

That engine note though, and those looks. Still have me.

I was looking for a drivers car, and now that I had ventured into the domain of sedans, something told me I should also explore the Škoda way.  Test drove a whole bunch of them. Yes, I’ve read the horror stories, but I was planning on working on the spares myself.  I drove a few Diesel Octavias and tell you what? Not bad. Not bad at all. A mileage of more than 20 kpl?  You’ve GOT to be shitting me.  The Turbo sound was one that I wouldn’t get bored of anytime soon too. Even though it lacked an abundance of horses under the hood,it had what I needed. I looked at the boot and it seemed I could plan a massacre and just keep the bodies in the boot. So fucking deep.  The Petrol Octavia was disappointing to say the least. The diesel felt like I was hauling a huge boat across wide waters, but I was expecting a little more refinement from the petrol, a little more oomph. Didn’t have any of that.  The fear factor for the diesel remained though.
See, it’s like this. If I was buying a Contessa, I’d be lusting to get under the car, grease on my hands, happy to be stalled anywhere she wanted us to be. Maybe even for the Civic… Well, I’d have to dig a hole to claim I was ever under the car, but for a fucking Octavia? I don’t think so.  Service costs about a hundred times more than it should, Parts cost tenfold, all this for more mileage? Well okay. A LOT more mileage actually. I’d be struggling to get anything more than 10kpl from a petrol car, I know my driving. So I can’t kick the Škoda out just yet.

I test drove a whole bunch of Tata Safaris since I was keeping the horizons wide open.  What fucking shite. How the fuck do people drive this car?  Although in all fairness, I had started my search price wise and all the safaris I drove had the potential to be in bad shape. Grand Vitara V6 One steered sharply to the left when I engaged the brakes. One didn’t brake at all. There was tremendous isolation from the road, and I’ll admit it was addictive to be that high up in the sky compared to normal cars, but A car like the Safari is not built for precision driving, atleast not the ones I test drove. I couldn’t figure out the tyre placement, felt like there was a great wall stopping me from being one with the car.

Disappointed, I was on a drive home when I saw a “For Sale” banner
on a Suzuki Vitara. It said V6 on the back. Shut the fuck up. I can buy a car with a V6 engine? It had a Maruti badge, so I knew it wouldn’t be an outright performer. Its handling was alright. Not on the good side, but then I couldn’t compare it to normal cars, that would be unfair. It felt like a much smaller car to drive, than it actually was. I like that about big cars. But the shape it was in, disappointed me a little bit.It would take some restoring.


I made it home and I am currently on the verge of choosing a new Swift instead. Hell, Tiff Needel likes it, has  to be good.

The Octavia | The Vitara V6 | The Suzuki Swift | Honda Civic
I barely know which one  of these I’ll end up with, Cars that almost have nothing in common with each other, except three of them are FWD. I’ll try not to hold that against them. I just hope I don’t regret what I buy.  Maybe I get something completely different?

Who the fuck knows.


Chirag is a Media Technologist Originally from the Himalayan region of Shimla (India). He holds a MSc in “Medientechnologie” from the German University TU-Ilmenau, and a bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering.
Passions include drones, cameras, astrophysics, and making life here on planet earth a little bit better.

About "" Has 41 Posts

Chirag is a Media Technologist Originally from the Himalayan region of Shimla (India). He holds a MSc in "Medientechnologie" from the German University TU-Ilmenau, and a bachelor's degree in Electronics Engineering. Passions include drones, cameras, astrophysics, and making life here on planet earth a little bit better.