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A question of room
A question of room

A question of room

SUV\'s are quite diiferent in character. The X-Trail is substantially bigger and likely cheaper to maintain in the long term.

Q. Want to buy my first car, a petrol-engined model that costs 5-6 lakh. My daily commute will be 35-50 km, mostly in the city. My priorties are fuel efficiency, low maintenance costs and easily available spares. Since I am from a family of tall people, I've shortlisted the Tata Manza and Hyundai i20. Are they BS-IV compliant? I don't intend to change the car in the near future. Please advise.

D C Shekhar.

A. For your budget, the best petrol engines are those offered by Maruti in the Swift, Ritz and Dzire. The Manza is very spacious but its Fiat engine isn't very fuel efficient and may not be as hassle-free as the Marutis. The Swift is very comfortable for tall people in the front but can get cramped at the back.

If you don't mind that, then we recommend the Swift. However, the i20 has a decent engine too, and offers a good balance between space, performance and ease of maintenance. So that's a good option too.

Q. Was planning to go in for the Nissan X-Trail because surveys indicate that it is the most fuel-efficient SUV (nearly 14 kpl). However, I heard that the new BMW X1 is to be launched by the end of the year. Is it as fuel efficient and will it be worth the wait?
Rishi Saluja

A. Your information on the X-Trail is correct. The Nissan SUV comes with a smooth, free-revving diesel that is efficient. We do not have data on the BMW X1's fuel efficiency figures in India (as it hasn't been launched here yet). But the 2-litre diesel, which is likely to power the X1, should give similar or marginally lower figures than the X-Trail.

However, we feel you shouldn't base your choice on the fuel efficiency figures alone, as both these SUVs are quite different in character. The X-Trail is substantially bigger and likely to be cheaper to maintain in the long term. The X1, like most BMWs, is a delight to drive. If driving is important to you then the X1, which is expected in late 2010, will be worth the wait.

Q. Bought a Maruti Ritz VXi petrol-engined car in January 2010. The car is BS IV-compliant. But I stay in Siliguri, West Bengal, where BS IV — compliant petrol is not available. So what kind of petrol should I use for my car — normal petrol or Xtra premium petrol — till BS IV-compliant petrol is available?
Dr S P Bhattacharyyas

A. On enquiring with Maruti, we've been told that though the Ritz needs BS IV (higher octane) fuel to meet the BS IV emission standards, there is no problem running your Ritz on either BS III or BS II fuel. Maruti has done tests on the Ritz on lower grades of fuel to ensure that it runs reliably. You can use the standard fuel without any worry. Do ensure that it is from a reliable fuel station though.

Q. Have a five-member family. The monthly running of our Maruti 800 CNG is 1800 km in the city and on the highway. I wish to upgrade to a Maruti Wagon R and the service centre owner suggests I wait for the new 2010 model. My second option is a CNG-powered Tata Indica Vista Safire. Given my requirements of good mileage and low maintenance, which car do you suggest I buy?
Manish Malhotra

A.Since you need to accommodate five passengers, space and comfort are your top priorities. Between the Vista and the Wagon R, the Tata is far more spacious and the one you should consider. The new Wagon R is due at the end of April and is the first serious change after 10 years, so you can expect it to be an improvement in every way.

It is also likely to be better in terms of fuel efficiency and maintenance costs than the Vista. But the Wagon R's rear seat isn't as spacious and won't be as comfortable for three passengers as the Vista's, which rules it out for you.