The worst car of the year 2011 is…….
Okie its not the Nano but it did not miss out by much and as I had written earlier it is indeed the Tata Aria.
The two Tatas between them cornered an overwhelming majority of your votes. They are very distantly followed by Maruti Kizashi, Beat Diesel, SX4 and Ford Fiesta in that order. Given the venom that this blog has generated in the last 2 weeks, I have been racking my brains on how to best justify this post.
It was very clear in the first seven days itself that it would be a Tata that would come out on top of the list. Last week, I myself lent my weight for the Nano and though the Aria makes it by a whisker I can understand if a sundry owner of the vehicle would want to declare a fatwa against this blog. Hence I thought, why not sit with an Aria owner myself and discuss this tragedy.
Off I went to Faridabad to meet 49-year-old burly Baldev Mehta, a “proud” owner of the Aria for the last 3 months. His son, was one of the irate mob that was (and maybe still is) baying for my blood, and he had dropped me a mail challenging me to drive his Aria and find faults with it.
When I reached the mansionesque residence of Mehta, I spotted the white car freshly laundered and waiting to trample over me. Hailing from the farming community who now dabbles with real estate and a little bit of local politics, it was almost stereotypical for the Mehta household to be avid lovers of everything big. Besides two Swifts that they own (both diesel), they also have a second hand Ford Endeavour in their garage.
Fortunately for me, I was test driving the Mahindra XUV 5OO that I thought would not only ensure a smooth passage into the compound but also help me exhibit the lacunae in the Aria. I had planned it to be an hour long exercise that stretched on for a couple more but in the end I believe, I was able to placate atleast one of my detractors even though they still remain as passionate about their car.
Anybody who has recently spent over Rs 10 lakh on a car would obviously not want to believe that its money ill spent. And when the person doling out judgement is a bloody journalist who himself may never be able to buy such a car, the anger is even better justified.
But let me not beat around the bush and get down to the basics. After driving the car for one good hour, here is what we found out about the car. What are the merits of the Mehta’s Aria :
* Space….it is quite comfortable at the back and feels a little luxurious too.
* Fuel economy…..it is diesel and hence easy on your pocket. And despite it bulk it gives a decent high double digit mileage too.
* Value for money….I am not too convinced on this but the Mehtas insist this was the only vehicle at that price that gives them that much space and off roading ability. Lack of options works for the car on this count.
And the demerits :
* Looks….sorry, the XUV is a better looker from the front. At the rear, they compete against each other for ugliness.
* Interiors…..dates, bad quality plastic and boring. An Innova in that range is no better either but other cheaper sedans like City and Verna do a much better job.
* Off roading ability….the much touted crossover, falls flat. While driving the car with the senior Mehta by my side, he was anxious lest I drive over a sharp stone while offroading around the Surajkund area. He does not believe me, but for sure there are offroaders that are least bothered about a thorn here and there. It may cost twice that of a Aria, but why boast like an SUV when you are not one. And that goes for others like Scorpio, Bolero, Captiva, CR-V as well.
* Refinement….it is refined when compared to stable mates like Indica, Indigo and particularly Safari. But for a car thats priced this much, sorry, it does not cut much ice. Mehtas still dont agree on this however.
* Braking……inconsistent, almost as if the Mahindras and Tatas collaborated on this (Mahindra has a penchant for making cars that brake when they feel like).
I can go on and on. But it is more important to finish my rendezvous with the Mehta family. Despite their zeal for driving and their love for cars, it became evident to me in half an hour, that they have never really paid attention to the nuances of an automobile. Perhaps the XUV was not a perfect car to establish that either, but at the end they themselves realised that Aria was not perfect.
That itself makes me feel like an achiever. However, this is not the time to brag. The lesson that I learnt in this, is that perhaps calling a car the worst of the lot, will always ruffle feathers. For the manufacturer and the team of engineers who diligently worked on the model, the car is like their baby. To the consumers, it could be the second largest investment they would be making in their life and hence emotions run high.
The point about awarding a worst car of the year, was to, in a way clear the clutter and call a spade a spade. Some cars are good and some are not that good. Maybe we should not call the latter worse or worst. Perhaps, as Mehta underlined, that got everybody’s goat…rather we can call it the car in 2011 that I would rather not have.
Before I close, two of the cars that featured in this list including the victor, also figured in another list. If at all, it shows the cars themselves raised much hope and expectations with the consumers. Something else ruined it.
Most searched car launches of year 2011 in India.
1. Hyundai Eon
2. Honda Brio
3. Mahindra XUV 500
4. Nissan Sunny
5. Maruti Kizashi
6. Tata Aria
7. Volkswagen Passat