Best car your money can buy

We rate all the cars currently available in the market to help you choose the one that suits your budget and requirements.

Vikrant Singh        Print Edition: September 2010

If you've been planning to buy a car, read on. The elaborate exercise in the following pages will help you zero in on the one that suits your taste and budget. Price? Check. Driveability? Check. Comfort? Check. Run through your criteria list and you'll find them on our scoresheet. Satisfy yourself on a range of parameters and by the time you are through with the story, it's a cinch you'll have made up your mind.

We have tested, measured and rated nearly every car sold in the market. A few might be missing because we have only considered those that are BS IV compliant. The unique part about this test is that apart from a definitive verdict on the car you should buy, we also tell you about the variants that make the best buys in each price category.

We have drawn an elaborate scorecard for every model and variant available in each category. The process was simple - we divided the test into two parts for a more focused readership. In the first part, we considered cars that cost up to Rs 6 lakh (ex-showroom) in Delhi. We further divided these cars according to their prices - up to Rs 3 lakh, Rs 3-4 lakh and, finally, Rs 4-6 lakh.

Evaluation parameters:
The scoresheet considers five criteria to better understand the attributes of a car. Here's what they mean. BODY: Cars are rated on the basis of the space they offer to the front and backseat passengers, as also on the shoulder, leg and knee room. We also rate them depending on how spacious they feel because of the design, colour (interior) and window area. The boot of the car and its opening width and height are measured to reveal its utility. Special attention is paid to attributes, such as split folding seats and a flat loading bay, both indicators of the boot's flexibility.

Visibility plays a crucial role while driving and, therefore, we have rated the cars on front and rear visibility. We also rate the insides on fit, finish, look and feel to calculate the 'feel of quality'. As for payload and safety, the more the payload, the better the rating. Similarly, the more the safety equipment, both active and passive, the better it is.

Drive: A car's acceleration, as recorded by our test equipment, is compared with our benchmark figures and points are awarded for each parameter. The same holds true for top speed as well as roll-on times. The latter is, of course, a reflection of a car's driveability in the city and its ability to overtake on the highway. Fuel economy is rated using the same procedure. As for engine characteristics and gearbox, we rate a car's drivetrain on its refinement, noise level and quality of gearshift, along with the choice of ratios.

COMFORT: We rate cars on their ride quality at both slow and high speeds and over bumps and potholes. We also rate them on aspects such as absorption ability, noise and vibration. The seats and the ease of ingress/egress are equally important comfort parameters. We rate the seats for the support that these offer to the back, side and bottom. Comfort equipment plays an important role, and as with most things materialistic, the longer the list, the better it is. Handling is not usually considered an attribute of comfort; after all, ride and handling are at the opposite ends of a spectrum. However, a car that handles well does add to comfort.

DYNAMICS: The aspects pertaining to handling are further split in this category. So, while steering response is an integral part of making a car more pleasurable to drive, the rating for this is not limited to feel alone. We also consider the effort required to steer a car. Directional stability is a car's ability to maintain composure in a straight line at high speeds. In our case, it also includes a car's ability to handle changes in direction with poise.

A quick car is no good if you cannot stop it on time to avoid a collision. To assign points for braking, both the stopping distance as well as the bite and progression that the brakes offer are considered.

COST: It is what finally decides whether the product is worth buying. It doesn't include just the purchase price, but also the resale value of the car and the warranty.
Courtesy: Auto Bild India

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