People's car

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 30, 2013 05:45 hrs

At present, I own a Maruti Suzuki Esteem and I want to upgrade to a compact diesel SUV. My daily commute is around 90 km and I do like to drive long distances on weekends with my family of four. Space is an absolute must-have for me, and so is ease of driving and fuel-efficiency. Power is of not much importance, although it would help to have decent lugging ability at least on the highway. My budget is between Rs 6 to 8 lakh and I'm trying to pick between the Mahindra Quanto and the Renault Duster. Kindly help me pick the best SUV?

Anjan Srivastava, New Delhi

The Mahindra Quanto is fuel-efficient, peppy and makes for a great city car as well as a very capable highway machine. It may not have the best handling characteristics, but as a family car, it is a well-rounded package. The Renault Duster just about fits in your budget, though it is the 83.8 bhp variant we're talking about. It's tough, good-looking and fuel-efficient, too, but you may find the slightly heavy clutch a bit bothersome. It has the larger boot as compared to the Quanto, but the latter does have an additional row of jump seats. However, the Duster is more car-like to drive, and as a package, is extremely good value-for-money.

Sedan blues

I want to buy an entry-level premium sedan and I'm findng it hard to pick between the BMW 3 Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The BMW 320d seems like a practical choice, but the C250 CDI AMG is a very tempting option. I have test driven the Audi A4 and I was not very impressed with it in terms of handling and driving feel. My car will be used mainly for commuting (self-driven) within a range of 35 km and for the occasional holiday trip. Is there any alternative apart from the German trio in this segment?

Shekhar Bhattacharjee, Bangalore

The BMW 320d is the newer car as compared to the C250 CDI AMG and, as such, feels much more contemporary on the inside and to drive. Interior space, however, has never been the 3 Series' strength and that continues although the same can be said for the C-Class too. The C250 CDI AMG is surely an appealing package, what with all that kit, but your best bet will be to test drive both cars and then decide which is better in terms of driving feel. That said, both are excellent in terms of performance, handling and fuel-efficiency. An interesting alternative to them is the Volvo S60 D3. It is stylish, spacious, well-built and very exclusive - do take a look at it before you sign on the dotted line.

Starting trouble

I have only just learned to drive and I am looking forward to buying my first car. Initially, I won't be driving it out of city limits, but I do eventually want to go on many long-distance trips with it. I would prefer a diesel hatchback and I am considering either the Maruti Suzuki Swift or the Ford Figo diesels. I have seen the Chevrolet Sail U-VA at the local dealership as well and while it looks spacious, is it actually better than the Swift and the Figo? Please help me make the right decision.

Pratik Jain, Mumbai

If your budget allows for it, the Swift makes great sense as a first car. It is frugal, reliable and has good enough interior space as well. The only downside to the Swift is the relative lack of boot space, so you might want to consider the Figo if you plan on lugging people and a lot of luggage as well. As for the Sail, it's a pretty competent car, but if you can swing the budget, go for the Swift.

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