2020 – The shark joins the family

I am not new to T-BHP, and have been here since about mid 2006. That is now 14th year with the site. That said, I have also had the good fortune to own many new and pre-owned cars (just due to my craze in cars). I started off with a Maruti 800 3rd hand car to learn driving in 2000, after which I moved on to Fiat Palio NV, a new Maruti 800 AC, the Swift VDI, Honda City pre-owned, the Ford Figo, Nissan Sunny, Honda Civic pre-owned, Maruti Ciaz, Honda BRV pre-owned, Tata Nano pre-owned, and Maruti Celerio. As you would see after the downfall or the news of FIAT not doing so well, I went with Honda or Maruti mostly with the exception of also having the FIAT MJD where possible. 
You can read about some of my other cars here, here, and here
Few of these cars were petrol, and few diesel, but I have always been a diesel-head. I do not know what really made me change cars, but on a pure ROI basis, I would have spent as much as about 2-3 cars changing so many cars over this period. Of all these Maruti was no nonsense and I knew what to expect. Although they still were/are making tin cans with the probable exception of XL6. I was a 3 time Honda owner and have finally ditched Honda after a hattrick session of issues with these cars and my legs which I will detail a bit later.
Buying another car was just a routine affair for me after so many. But I was in a severe dilemma. After so many cars, I just wanted my legs to be at peace. Of all these the celerio and BRV were automatic petrols and the BRV was fantastic for ownership – it was such a fuss free car. But the issue of leg pains tormented me all over again. My thoughts that automatics will be better for legs were rubbish. The right leg was angled badly in automatic cars and this was hurting me. I had to go manual again. And diesel it had to be to leverage on the torque. Now the question was which one this time?
Criteria to own a car
I had to buy one more car. A car that would keep me happy for few more years without a change. I knew it had to be a diesel manual for sure as it put me at ease compared to the automatic as I had control over how to drive my car. It had to be value for money for the features given and it had to meet these criteria.
  1. Leg space with far seat push back for driver seat
  2. Ground clearance to avoid shitty potholes in Bangalore
  3. Not too much body roll if possible
  4. Tech gimmicks
  5. Reasonably good mileage, torque and power
  6. Complete VFM for the price paid
  7. Good AC with inbuilt stereo supporting apple car play for my phone
  8. I did not want to install any accessory this time extra barring a few I wanted everything in the car itself – fully loaded vehicle
  9. Resale was a consideration but the lowest priority one
Too many choices in 2019
Given the great launches of 2019, I had the following options this time around without paying heed to any pricing bracket. 
  1. Nissan Kicks
  2. Ford Ecosport
  3. Tata Harrier
  4. MG Hector
  5. Kia Seltos
  6. Renault Duster
  7. Renault Captur
  8. Jeep Compass
  9. Tata Hexa
  10. Nexon / WRV / Brezza / Ertiga 
  11. XL6, Ciaz 1.5D
I needed to be absolutely sure that any car I buy was VFM, and kept me cool during my 25km (total per day) commute up and down in Bangalore if you know what peak traffic looks like. So the ground rule was that any test drive had to be in similar conditions and if someone didn’t offer me that it was a no-no for me.
Now for elimination rounds. Ready?
I took a test drive of kicks diesel and my opinion was that the pedals were a bit hard to press, but overall the engine was good, but the car was rather lacklustre even with its intelligence. The horrible part was the sub par below HD rear camera that put me off. Seating was for 5. Grey leather interiors were not so great. The music system was sub par. They were offering 0% interest scheme etc but the whole sales pitch was not really up to the mark. At about 17.4 lacs OTR Bangalore, this was not so much VFM. At 15 you could consider this. Moreover Kicks was fast approaching the likes of Duster, Captur, etc into oblivion in terms of dated designs. Kia almost smashed every other car out of the park with Seltos.
Duster and Captur
I had seen much of this already, and although these are the toughest cars money can buy honestly in that price range, the design was dead on arrival for me so I had to drop it. Even if I had bought these they would easily depreciate by 50% very very soon as I had enough experience with Ola cash my car, or Olx, or cars24, etc by now. So buying one of these means 5-7 lac of depreciation in 2-3y. Design and modernness and appeal was missing in 2019 to go forward. So no test drive taken.
Jeep Compass
Eliminated due to cheaper options with same engines available at lower price point such as hector, harrier. Also space was a concern. 
Nexon, WRV, Brezza, Ertiga
All dropped because at about 10-12 lac-ish they either lacked features, or power, or space or something or the other. Only way to get more is to go to  15 lac + range. Initially I wanted to stop at 15 lacs, but later I made up my mind to go to 20 + or – 1 or 2 more lacs. As long as there was VFM. The VFM always ensured I listened to my mind than my heart.
New launch, only petrol, no diesel, so dropped although it was more appealing than Ertiga.
Ciaz 1.5D
Old hand, I already owned 1.3 ciaz, was very cool to drive. Took a test drive of 1.5D and was blown away by the drive. Absolutely scintillating engine and overall drive. Smooth like hell. But reserved judgement for a while more. I got this at 13.75 lacs. Which means it was tending to 15 already. Surely VFM with everything in place – leather seats, white led’s alloys, and what not. Strong contender for sure.
Tata Hexa
When the car was launched the Tata hexa was awesome. But once more new choices were available this car also seem to be getting obsolete with respect to design. It is not that it was an incapable car but the engine was a bit outdated and I was in two minds whether to go for it or not. I also perceive the car as heavy and was not so much to go towards the Tata brand. Their service network leaves a lot to be desired and after owning the Tata Nano I was not okay to go to Tata again with the exception being Harrier.
Ford Ecosport
The Ford EcoSport was an old horse again. It has sold very well since inception over multiple iterations. Even after so many years it was still not looking very outdated. My friend owned an eco-sport automatic and I have driven it multiple times. As long as you handle it with care it is a breeze to drive within city traffic. But the version I was considering was a diesel manual the same one the Figo came with. The dealer offered me a 12 km ride and the car performed extremely well. The engine was very potent and each and every functionality was well integrated within the car. I actually kind of like the sync system in the older car. The point is about finding what you want easily and Ford are masters at this. I did have some leg pain but that’s probably because I was driving the new Ford for the first time and it took some time getting adjusted to.
The Ford EcoSport was a strong contender in the buying game and at about 15 lakhs this was a very good machine to go for. 
Tata Harrier
Even though I was concerned about the bulk of the car the Harrier was a worthy alternative at about 18.5 lakh. This was not the top end version. The dealer offered me a 12 km drive through peak traffic. I also took a shorter test drive around the office once more. The first thing you notice about the Harrier is its bulk. It is a real SUV but also one that blocks many parts of your vision with its thick pillars. When you’re standing next to vehicles in peak traffic,  you don’t get a sense of safety and feel that you may probably  hit the two wheelers standing next to you.
Gear shift and clutch seem a bit disconnected and although it easy to drive and powerful to the interiors lack finesse and Tata could have done better for a car this expensive. Of course there are eight speakers and the Harman stereo but I somehow felt the tech stuff could’ve been more cooler. It would not be wrong to say the hexa is actually better than the Harrier inside. Since the car seemed way too big for me and did not offer me VFM for the price I have to pay I decided to drop it.
Kia Seltos
This car has been grabbing headlines ever since its launch simply because it is a car with all the features anyone can ask for at this point in time. The point was not that the people did not have money but they wanted a vehicle which offered them more. In every possible way this car was good but I did have some things to pick on.
The doors wouldn’t open wide enough and the space in the middle row was just about okay if not great. This was a car where the clutch and gear shift were mated very well and it was a joy to use. The power is adequate for five people and the torque meant that you could putter around in city traffic easily. So this car was obviously in the list.
MG Hector
This car was the dark horse among all cars and irrespective of the negative publicity it manage to gather, as a car it offered much much more at a lower price point. This car was sitting right higher than Ford EcoSport and slightly lower than the Seltos top end HTX+ variants. Ride quality was very good and I had a 12 km test drive of this car as well. The power was very good and the way it was able to handle potholes on the road was awesome. It had huge amount of space both for the rear passengers as well as for luggage and this was a selling point for me.
I preferred to go for the top end variant but the problem was this was going about 20 lacks. The second gear had an issue in this car and was not properly tuned so I did have a few instances where the car stopped in second gear. The fiat MJD with 170 bhp of power was very evident with this car.  This car made the Harrier look pale in comparison. This car also made it to my buy list.
Kia Seltos, MG hector, Ecosport and Ciaz 1.5D.
For a long time, I really wanted the 1.5 Ciaz again, but the thought of owning another Maruti again kind of made me look elsewhere. The XUV and Scorpio were out since they were old, outdated and somewhat not in my taste. The Verna did not even figure here because I did not prefer a Hyundai. So also the Venue since it was utmost a small 5 seater raised to a good ground clearance. Somewhat felt it was overpriced. 
I booked the hector, second variant manual diesel. White colour. Paid 50000 bucks. I told him take your own time to deliver upto 5 months. I wanted the delivery to be in 2020. During the time I waited, I could not still give up on the others so easily. After a lot of reading about BS4/6 confusions for diesel cars and the fact I already owned Ciaz with a heavy heart I decided to let the 1.5D go. After driving the Seltos I came to appreciate the features a lot and for 18.9 lacs I was getting leather ventilated seats, Bose speakers, purifier, sun roof and what not. So I decided to cancel the hector booking and book the Seltos instead. By now it was November of 2019 and when I went to book it, they jacked the prices to 19.5 and at this price the HTX+ made no sense for VFM – my original criteria.  Without a bit of thinking I dropped the Seltos as well. 
Wild card entry – Mahindra Marazzo

That left the Ford Ecosport only on the list. Very capable and right in all sense of the word. I had carefully kept off MUV cars in all this search but this is where I called Mahindra and asked them whether they would give me a test drive of the marazzo and I got my 12km test drive upto my home in peak traffic.  I checked for parking at my home and it was a bit tight. But still managed to feel that parking was possible correctly.
The car itself was a 120bhp 1.5 Diesel from the Mahindra stable and the first thing you notice is its super silent engine/cabin. On the test drive, it was not the star performer, but ticked many of my boxes on the list. The price was 18.6 which is why I had dropped it last year before the BRV. But here it was again this time at a whole lot lesser – almost 10%+ down on original pricing OTR. This was the M8 fully loaded model and for the value it was offering midway between 16 & 17 lacs, it was astounding enough for me.
Bonus is it was a 7 seater /  8 seater config possible. I opted for the aquamarine green and specifically did not want to go for loan, somehow managed to scoop up the money and made a full downpayment for the aquamarine colour – mid December. However a couple of days after payment was made, he said the colour isn’t available and there was a glitch on the facts he stated that car was there. This was India Garage. They offered me a white instead and he confirmed it was under transit. I had to make a choice. I opted for the 7 seater (2+2+3) , pearl white M8 top end variant of the BS4 marazzo which was on an irresistible offer price in December.  The risk was with BS6 fuel on BS4 car but heck even BS2 vehicles still ply and there is nothing wrong with them and I trust the industry to find a way out.
There was a death in the family around Christmas so had to wait until that cleared up, so moved by registration to 1st of Jan 2020. So 2019 model registered in 2020. And no aquamarine, but Pearl white. 
PDI and delivery
I had made the full downpayment and told him to hold the car until Jan 1st. He got it to showroom on Dec 31st, so my new year eve was spent checking it out at the basement of the showroom. Was looking good and waiting for its driver – me!! 
On Jan 1st, called my fil, wife and kids (mom wasn’t able to come due to medical complications) to the showroom by 4pm. Car was getting cleaned and ready. Finished paper work which was minimal – no loan, full DP and nothing much to fill. Everything was done. Someone suggested to verify against TBHP PDI so did that. Was all ok. They gave me a bouquet and some photographs later, it was mine. 
The car was finally mine – the gentle shark Mahindra Marazzo! This is where the story begins. Due to extreme paucity of time, I will need to update this thread in different parts. Please bear with me. For now I will leave you with a couple of photos. Enjoy!