Sunday, August 17, 2014

Mahindra Scorpio Sle, My drive.

Well, now that I have got my vehicle let me drive it my way(A pun on sachin tendulkar's line "Now that I am captain, Let me do it my way").

1. The stance: The way the vehicle stands on the road is majestic. I don't think mahindra is going to change any of the exteriors. There are no sharp corners like the XUV(That is the major reason i dislike it and also the stance is that of a traditional SUV. We have many with similar looks on the road) All the corners are contoured and rounded. Sufficient bonnet length to make the driver feel safer. I don't know the effectiveness of the crumple zone but, here i will take mahindra's word. The way it lunges forward is awesome.

2. The indicators are clearly visible. But I thought that the rear indicators throughout the height of the vehicle are a little too much. I have seen a lot of scorpios with the tail lights painted black for the top half and I liked the way the vehicle looked at the rear after this. Would I get it done, I don't know for now.

3. The road clearance is ample but a bit lesser than the LX which does not come with the claddings all around. Trust me, the claddings are required. Climbing the vehicle can be daunting for people used to smaller cars and the steps all around the vehicle attached to the claddings are very much a requirement.

4. The extra moolah spent on the chequered flag sticker is really well spent. It provides a sense of class to the vehicle and breaks the mundane white throughout the vehicle.

5. The front grill is good but it can still be perfected and be made a bit meaner.

6. Step on the driver seat and the feel is elated and elevated both at the same time and is more so for people coming from driving small cars. All of a sudden you will be seeing the road with a different look. The vision clear and lucid. The driver height which is a major feature of any SUV is spot on. The seats are comfortable. But there is definitely lot of scope of improvement. The steering wheel is nice and with angular adjustment, that is the only degree of freedom for the driver. Seats cannot be adjusted. The height of the steering wheel cannot be adjusted. Turn back from the drive seat and have a look at the space. It will be a shocker.

7. The cabin space is as large as a standard room. If you go for the captain seats, the amount of air flow in the cabin is going to surprise you. Don't go for lighter colors for the seats you will regret it. Particularly with kids moving around the space available. It is very easy to change seats with the captain seat configuration. Believe me there will be lot of movement between     the inmates. The largess of your vehicle is clearly visible when you reverse your vehicle and you see the awesome distance between your seat and the rear end of your car.

8. The rear seats are for kids and shorter people only. With the adjustment available in the captain seat configuration, the middle seat can be adjusted for ultimate comfort or for medium comfort based on whether we have people in the rear seat.

9. Driving the vehicle requires lot more effort than the usual small cars. Especially in city traffic, you can get really tired. The hyper-vibrating gear knob does not help at all. The long travel clutch pedal is also a hindrance while driving in city conditions. Make sure you have lengthy legs to drive the scorpio for the long travel of the clutch pedal. The first half travel of the clutch pedal does not do anything. The action starts from above half the travel of the clutch pedal.

10. Long drives, huh, you have the perfect vehicle. I had a lot of trouble keeping the vehicle between 60-80 Kph. It will easily slip into 120 kph once you engage the fifth gear. I have decided to drive the vehicle within this band so as to keep the RPM below 2000 for at least 2000 Km.

11. Braking is nice and ABS works perfect. I am new to this ABS thing and I like the grace it gives to the vehicle during braking.

12. The way the spare tyre was positioned got me thinking. What was going throughout the designer's head at that time. I thought that they forgot completely about the spare tyre and then decided the position as an after-thought. The sales person was explaining the way to remove the spare tyre from under the rear and I was really amused. Much smaller and cheaper cars have awesome placing of the spare tyre. Terribly disappointed at this aspect of the scorpio.

13. Mileage, forget it. Don't ask me. It really hurts here. My monthly spending will be doubled.

14. Does this vehicle rock? It rocks like a boat. Even small humps when negotiated on one of the tyres rocks the vehicle sideways. It takes a considerable amount of time for this movemet to be dampened. People driving high end cars will definitely be put off by this aspect of the scorpio. The vehicle rocks length wise also when you negotiate a hump all of a sudden. This vehicle definitely rocks(rolls and yaws)!!!!!!!!!!!. Drive the vehicl smooth and slow over any undulations in the road.

15. Dont use the hand brake frequently. It will lose its capability and the stroke of the hand brake is very much limited. Keep it for situations which really demand it. Park the vehicle with first or the reverse gear engaged(This is recommended in the manual also).

16. Idylling generates lot of sound. After driving a little the sound reduces during movement.

17. The scropio has gone through many revisions. The way I look at it, the revisions have been in the form of retro-fits. I have never seen a vehicle with that many wirings out in the open. I just looked beneath my seat and I saw lot of wirings below the driver seat as well as the middle row. These thing happen only because of retro-fits. Hope that the next avataar of the scorpio is a really re-designed one and not a retro-fitted one.

18. Since the remote central locking does not close the windows automatically(If they are open while you alight from the vehicle), I was informed by the sales guy that a retro-fit (here we go again)  to this effect is in the works and may be available in a couple of months.

Summary :-

I love my drive. "Its the driver. Not the drive", is it?  What's the driver without his drive? Huh............

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My experiences while buying the Mahindra scorpio SLE

Since the day, Mahindra put up the advertisement of the Scorpio brand, I was hooked to the vehicle. Whenever it passed me it would definitely get a lookup. What were the factors for my fascination for this vehicle?
1. Awesome bullish looks
2. Amount of space in the cabin
3. Various seating arrangements, that too, factory fitted
4. The name of the car is spot on.
5. Horse powers at our disposal
6. Indian car
7. The longevity of the brand. It has never gone out of style
8. The cost, Simply perfect
9. No other SUV in the segment

                   Called Anant cars and was given an option of the test drive at my convenience. The car for the test drive was a fully loaded vlx with captain seats. The first and primary requirement was to check the park ability of the vehicle in the front of my house. I just requested the driver to park in the space provided. It is a space between a tree and the wall of our house. The tree is not to be disturbed. I was shocked that the car could be parked. I was parking a Maruti swift in the same place. But, I thought the driver was more elegant in parking. I did not take the risk of parking it and I don't think the driver would have allowed me to try with the test vehicle. Let us see how I will do in the parking test once I take the delivery of my car.

                 Once the parking issue has been resolved, the next thing was the amount of air/space in the vehicle. My son was absolutely elated with the amount of space in the car. He was used to sitting in one single position in my swift. Here, because of the captain seat layout, you can literally walk throughout the length of the car. The captain seats are very comfortable. It is like having 4 driver seats in the car. The hand rests on the seats add to the comfort feel. Once you feel tired of sitting it is time to have a nap on the fixed third row seat. All the baggage can be put up at the back of the third row or important ones can be accommodated in the area between the captain seats. The seating position of both the drivers and passengers are optimally high. Provides a clear view of the road. The drive was comfortable and the horse powers are just waiting to be utilized. The road presence is next only to the fortuner.

Once the test drive was over, the captain seat configuration was chosen. Now to plan for the finances

                Planning for the finances took a month. Then called the sales rep for booking the car. A shock awaited me. The scorpio SLE is not available with the captain seat configuration, bummer. I was completely bogged down with this piece of information. Immediately my mind started thinking about the second hand car market and to buy a second hand vlx version. But then, the sales rep called some people in his showroom and told that the configuration can be setup once the car arrives at the showroom and it will be done by the service team right here. I did not want to go into details about how this will be done. So, the bottom line is that you can get an SLE with captain seats if you want one. Now, People at Anant cars, on Mysore road are sitting ducks. They could not answer a simple question related to the seating arrangements. They were not clear whether the captain seats can be slid along the length of the vehicle so as to adjust the leg room on the second row.

                  It was now time for accessories. My first requirement was the roof mounted blower. Here the sales rep appraised me that my seat configuration does not require this accessory since there is a gap in the second row and the AC vents are ample enough. I saw the logic in this and removed the accessory from my list. I would suggest this accessory for anybody going for the 8 seater version. It is required. Anyhow, just for information I asked him the cost and wait............. INR 30K approx. OMG...........

                   Next came the seat covers. Genuine leather was out of budget, so out of question. I settled for fake leather which was in my swift and is still going strong after 5 years. Color of the seats will definitely be beige based and still have not decided about going for two tone or a single color. Anyhow, color department is headed by wifey, so I will not discuss more about it. Seat covers with a millimetre of foam was selected. The design had lot of diamonds in the back support portion which provided air gaps. And of course, it is gsport.

                   I have been accused of creating imbalance in my music system on my swift. I had Blaukpunkt headset and JVC speakers. They were out of sync. High end music processor, Lowest end speaker setup. This time, I told the sales rep that I want a balanced, middle of the road combo of head unit and matching its capability speakers. I am not interested in the fancy lights, touchscreens and the 2 DINs. They are too flashy and not worth the money in these days of cheap android tablets. So the HU selected was PIONEER 4690-BT. It has front aux-in, front USB, Bluetooth with profiles for music playback and Phone calls. Other options available are MTP connectivity/Ipod Iphone connectivity, which in my opinion is a joke.

                Just imagine browsing the gigantic collection one has on the iphones/androids throgh the arcane interface of the HU(Such a wastage of money for these options). Speakers are JBL CS63SI for the front and JBL GT949 for the rear. WIth scorpio we have issues regarding the placing of speakers. The front speakers are all right. They go into the front doors. Trouble start with the other two speakers. The options available are to place the two speakers individually in wooden housing in the luggage area OR place the speakers in the rear door. Since the luggage area is minimal in majority of the 7 or 8 seaters. It was decided to put the other speakers within the rear door. But if the rear is slush with luggage, I dont know what will be the speaker output.

                 The next accessory is the Rain visor. This will cover the sides of the windows allowing the occupants to open the glass a little during rainy days. The visors create a problem if it is put for the rear window also. The rear window opens "out". It is not of the sliding type. This opening out of the window is obstructed if a rain visor is put for the rear window also. So, ruled against it. It was chosen only for the front and the middle doors.

              Being a Mechanical Engineer, a NO-NO for bull bars. The bullbars nullify the impact absorption capability of the vehicle. People should know, they are more safe if the vehicle completely crumples in the front portion during any accident. This shows that the impact of the accident has been absorbed by the crumple zone structure. The bull bar does not absorb any of the shocks and are directly transferred to the inmates of the vehicle, hurting them more.

             Now comes an accessory which is going to take everybody by surprise. The decal sticker on the vlx. The race chequered flag inspired graphics. Wifey was adamant and particularly wanted that on our SLE. The cost, wait for it................. is INR 7k. Well, that was the only demand from wifeys side, so ,it had to be met.

           Now, comes the Car Loan portion. I was very clear in my mind that the loan would be from a Nationalized bank and the same was conveyed to the sales team.

1. CIBIL score. This will be used by the bank to know your creditability.
2. If your CIBIL score is bad be ready with the documents for both husband and wife.
3. Normally loan will be disbursed with the capability of the applicant only, if there is a good cibil score otherwise, husband and wife will be made joint applicants. Better to be ready with documents of both.
4. Let us see what were the documents given
a. Form 16 for the last 2 years
b. IT returns for the last 2 years
c. 6 months bank statement
d. 3 months pay slips
e. Address proof
f. ID proof
g. 7 - 10 photographs
h. ID of your present profession(Both for loan and for availing corporate discounts)
i. If u have any other loan
i1. If completed, a certificate from the bank of loan closure
i2. If loan still in force, a loan statement, which shows ur monthly loan payments with loan account number for every transaction.

                   Once the loan is sanctioned you will be hunted down by the sales people to complete the sale. The salesman visited my home in the evening of my loan disbursal and requested me to pay up the remaining amount. I was ready with the amount. The amount was counted and ........... wait for it.......... He has not bought any book or slip to acknowledge the amount. A frenzy of phone calls started. Providing me with personal guarantees, this and that and this........... The ordeal went on for 2 hours. During this time I contacted ICICI for getting a quote. In 10 minutes flat I got a quote which was 12K less. So, I showed the chat history to the sales guy and told him that I would buy insurance from him if they bettered this deal. If not I want the Engine number and the chasis number. In the mean time all the permutations and combinations were tried and then, they decided that they would get me a receipt at another showroom approx 10Kms from my house on the busy mysore road. At night 8PM I was requested to accompany the sales guy for paying the remaining amount at this showroom. The sales guy had bought a verito. In peak hour traffic we went to the showroom where there were nobody except the cashier waiting only for us. We completed the transaction and headed back. The ordeal took 1.5 hrs.

                 Next day, ICICI bombarded me with phone calls for insurance. I again called the sales guy to give me Engine and chasis number. No reply uptil 3.00PM. I had committed to the ICICI guy at 3.00 PM. Since I was not getting any response I called the senior sales guy. No reply. Continuous 5-6 rings. He shutdown his phone(And this from somebody who told that he can be contacted until the lifetime of my vehicle, Sales strategy have not changed much, have they. In production we under commit and over deliver. But I think the sales function is still traditional). Now, I was a worried man. I remembered that I had got a call from one more person making a similar claim to the senior sales person. 4 calls no reply. After 5 minutes got a call. I went all guns blazing on him. Then calmed down knowing that he is bed ridden. From his bed, this guy got the data in 5 minutes and I received an SMS. Kudos to him. In the meantime the insurance team in the showroom could not match the quote I received. That too, the insurance provider was the same in both the cases. Came home completed the insurance formalities online aided by the ICICI guy over phone and chat. Immediately the policy was sent to my mail-id. There ends my tryst with insurance.

                While studying the handout given to me during the time of booking, I saw that the insurance is a document which is to be provide to the RTO for the registration process. Immediately mailed the soft copy of the insurance to the sales person.

The discounts given out to me
1. Extended warranty for two years worth 15,169/-
2. Cash discount of INR 7,500/-
3. Corporate discount(Depending on your profession)
4. Free floor mats
5. Free Idol
6. Free perfume
7. Free mudflaps

                 All this with Mahindra and Mahindra going gaga over their website shouting on the top of their voice that there is a discount of upto INR 60,000/-. The website does not tell anything regarding the breakup of the discounts. So, it is practically impossible to argue with the showrooms. Anything is asked you will be told that it is not for this model. So, the "upto 60,000" is a myth. Whatever, take qoutes from all the dealers to find out about this.

                 Coming to buying an insurance, you have to be pretty careful here. You definitely can save money upto 13K. To check the prices of insurance for new vehicles on various insurance providers, you need the following data
1. Demographic data (Name, address, age............)
2. No claim bonus certificate. If you already own a car in your name. If in your policy document the NCB is mentioned then that itself is the NCB certificate. Otherwise mail your insurance provider for the same.
3. RTO where the vehicle is to be registered
4. Ex-showroom price
5. Engine number(full and detailed)
6. Chasis number(full and detailed)
7. Car make and model
8. Nominee demographics
9. Date of you taking the ownership of the vehicle from the showroom

               The option of captain seats is turning out to be colossal chapter. My sales rep is telling me that he is having a heck of a time convincing his GM regarding this. He asked the details of my previous car. He told it was required to convince his GM.

                   The day has come and the sales person called me and told that the car would be ready in the evening. I am not somebody who will go into the details of the vehicles. I just want them to work. Did a visual inspection. The seat covers were folded in the most un-professional way as I had expected. The arm rest on one of the captain seat hung down instead of being horizontal. It was repaired nominally. Checked out the audio system and seemed to work good. Now started the saga of signatures. The salesman don't know much about the car. He tried to explain what he knew. But, i saw that he was failing terribly. Everything was signed. I asked him when I would get the RC smart card. He told it would take 40 days and it would be dispatched to my address. I asked him a document for extended warranty. Lo and behold, there started the great Indian rope trick. When the senior salesman came to my house I just told him to spell out his offer. What he did was held a sheet of paper and put the Total price of the vehicle on the top. Below he put a minus sign across the cost for extended warranty and a cash discount. He showed me the calculation. I thought that the total offer from him is a free 2 year extended warranty and the cash discount. On the delivery day, the salesman told that the offer was given to me just subtracting the extd warranty. This he did to reduce the cash burden on me.

My question to him was
Did you make me an offer to decide whether I wanted extd warranty or not?
No. He did not make me an offer.

I had taken parker pens as gift in the increasing order of costs based on the responses from the three salesmen. After this ordeal, Nobody in the family was agreeing to give the gifts. An eye for an eye will make everyone blind. So, handed over the gifts to the junior most salesman and thanked him for everything.

So, I have been hoodwinked. So, Please be clear with every rupee you are dealing during the discussion. Ask him to write it down explicitly.

The usual formalities were completed. I drove the vehicle to a temple near my house. It was a new experience all together. The drive is majestic. The gear knob vibrates like crazy.

Anant cars front office called for taking feedback regarding the experience. Wifey responded with exactly whatever happened. The ordeal at delivery time was taken as a complaint. So, the salesmen called me up and visited my house. But, they re-iterated whatever they were telling adding this might impede the junior's growth. So, had to give a response favorable to the salesmen.