I have been using a Fiat Palio 1.2 since 2002 and now plan on replacing it with another hatchback with a budget of around Rs 5 lakh. I have a monthly commute of 700 km and am looking for a petrol car. I have been considering the Maruti Suzuki Swift, Hyundai i20 and Volkswagen Polo. While I think the i20 is feature rich and spacious, it's not really fun to drive and I've heard that it isn't fuel efficient either. I like driving the Swift, but am unhappy with the lack of space in the rear and its plastic quality. I haven't test driven the Polo yet, but I know it's a three-cylinder engine and might not be great to drive. Should I opt for the Dzire?
Manuj Sethi, via email
Between the i20, Swift and Polo, it is the Swift that meets your requirements of being fun to drive as well as efficient. But actually, the Polo is not that bad either when it comes to driving pleasure as well as efficiency. The three-cylinder engine may be a little unrefined at start up and while running, but as such, the car is good-looking though space for three at the rear is a compromise. Instead of either of these cars, why don't you look at the Maruti Suzuki Ritz? It is cheaper than the Swift and has all the attributes of the Swift " fun to drive as well as efficient. It is tall, so it is easy to get in and out and helps while manoeuvring in traffic too. Do check it out. The Dzire? Well, that's just a Swift with a little boot, isn't it?
To CNG or not
Deepu Sharma, via email
We suggest you stay clear of CNG, or even LPG for that matter. In our experience, these fuels tend to wear engines down quicker than the fuels (petrol or diesel) they were designed to burn. Hence, I strongly advice you to stick to a diesel car and not go through the pain to go down the LPG/CNG path. If, however, you do want to go ahead, choose LPG over CNG.
Jazz and use
T V Krishna Reddy, Anantapur
We love the Honda Jazz. There is no hatchback in India that comes with its interior room and versatility. The Jazz is a marvel of packaging and engineering. It looks nice, it is great to drive and it is efficient. So indeed you can go for it. The Jazz, unfortunately, is not promoted that strongly by Honda, which is a pity actually as this car deserves a better fate. A new Jazz is not expected till end-2014 anyway.