The Honda City seems like the perfect choice for some, however, that is my last pick if none of the other options works out.

BHPian Mayank Tumbre recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Buying a car is nothing less than an occasion in Indian households. These occasions get more and more expensive as time flies, thanks to all the events that occurred on our planet in the past few years. Getting a luxurious and yet modern-looking car with all the tools and gadgets can bring down your bank balance by more than 5 lakhs.

To get past these cost issues, some people consider the option of second-hand cars. You get all the glamour of a high-end car at a lower cost. With all its pros, many cons follow. Like, the interest rate on loans is mind-numbingly high (at 14% are you kidding me) and you don’t get any sort of warranty. Along with this, it is a 50-50 chance of whether you get a well-maintained car or not. Even after clarifying the maintenance by the previous owners, it is difficult to predict the car’s reliability in the future.

I calculated all the pros and cons of both new and used cars, and came to the conclusion that a pre-owned car would suit my pockets.

My family owned a pre-owned 2013 XUV500 until we sold it in April. Maintaining that 2.2L diesel became a pain in our butt after some time. We are now on the hunt for a new whip to save us from the hassle of travelling in rickshaws in monsoon.

The budget is a measly 3.5 lakhs so I don’t really expect any car to be less than 7 years old. I have a few requirements and have jotted down a shortlist. Now it is up to you readers to help me with this gigantic yet fun task of finding my new love (by love I mean the car, of course).

The requirements are nothing too extraordinary:

  • Decent leg room and headroom at the back (for a 6 feet guy)
  • Minimum of 2 airbags
  • Styling that hasn’t aged like milk
  • Low maintenance and mileage of over 7-8kmpl
  • Petrol
  • Suitable for Mumbai traffic
  • Alloy wheels
  • Must be a laugh on great roads
  • Has a sense of uniqueness (no WagonRs or City)

The cars I found which met my requirements:

  • 2011 VW Polo Highline 1.6
  • 2010 Honda Civic 1.8
  • 2011 VW Polo Highline 1.2
  • 2011 VW Vento Highline
  • 2012 Skoda Laura 1.8 TSI
  • 2012 VW Jetta Trendline

You must have noticed a pattern of European cars on the shortlist. That is because of an incident that happened on one of my trips which made me a weeny bit paranoid towards a few Asian car brands like Maruti and Hyundai. However, that is a story for another day.

Manual gearbox is the preference since with ze Germans you only get a DSG for automatic. I am neither mentally nor financially prepared to weigh the costs of those unreliable pieces of complex machinery.

The Honda City seems like the perfect choice for some, however, that is my last option if none of the other options works out. Not the biggest fan of the City, if I m extremely honest. Its looks don’t faze me for some reason.

Better recommendations are appreciated. Any warnings over the cars in my shortlists are welcomed. Any other comments, in general, will be embraced without any hostility. I am still a newbie in the car biz and would like recommendations or suggestions from the wise users on this forum.

Here’s what GTO had to say about the matter:

A 3.5-lakh rupee car can quickly become a 5 or 6 lakh car, especially if it is an old German. Since you are on a tight budget, forget the old German cars. Eliminate them. If you thought a ’13 XUV500 was a handful to maintain, you should try an old Skoda or VW. My brother has spent over 1-lakh on his 2012 Jetta in the last year (injectors, clutch etc.) and his superbly maintained one-hand-driven example suffered two breakdowns (again, due to the injectors once and the other was a clutch failure). Buying a 10-year-old German car on a budget is imprudent.

Keeping the tight budget in mind, here’s what I would buy for 3.5 – 4 lakhs:

  • Honda City (buy the newest & cleanest example you can find)
  • Toyota Corolla (buy the newest & cleanest example you can find)
  • Honda Civic (dirt cheap as it has zero resale)

Also consider well-rounded cheap cars like the Aspire 1.5 TDCi which are a hoot to drive, family-friendly and have poor resale (you can get good examples for cheap).

You’ll be happy with any of these. It’s a myth that you need to spend big bucks or buy a German for driving pleasure. Give me a Honda Brio or a City with nice tyres and I’ll show you non-stop giggles. Happy shopping, bud!

Here’s what BHPian lamborghini had to say about the matter:

I’d avoid the Polo due to space issues, though a petrol Vento / Rapid could be a good option: being a NA engine, it’s fairly reliable though clutch & body parts could be expensive to replace (but that will be the case with any of these cars).

Another option I would look at is the Corolla : the previous generation was extremely well built and there are several threads on similar pre-owned purchases such as this one.

City & Civic may not offer you the carefree driving experience owing to their ground clearance : the Corolla and Rapid too have been known for scraping their underbody, but it isn’t as bad as the City & Civic. Between these, the heart would vote for the Civic and the head would prefer the City (better FE, lower spares cost & easy availability of parts).

If you want an enthusiast’s choice, and if you have a good connection for spares : there is a Mitsubishi Cedia on the TBHP classifieds that could be worth considering.

Here’s what BHPian nik0502 had to say about the matter:

I would suggest you look at newer cars even if it means buying a smaller car. Big cars come with big maintenance costs as you are already experiencing with XUV.

I have a 2010 Honda Civic VAT. Bought used when it was about 4 years old. The car was in excellent condition and has always been serviced at the authorised service centre. Total Kms on Odo are 110K. The car was flawless till the 9-year mark. And started showing age after that.

I have spent over a lac in maintaining it in last one year which includes a new radiator, new hoses, new head gasket, new shock absorbers, it needed new springs too since the springs became too soft but I installed RogerAB and that is helping, a new self actuator, new paint since original paint started cracking. New seat and armrest covers and the car is far from perfect. I still have to get the original Honda engine mount which costs ~15K. The power steering needs to be fixed the rubber beadings have given up all this for a well-maintained car. And I have not accounted for the regular maintenance like tyres and service.

Here’s what BHPian powertrain had to say about the matter:

I’ve got 2 words for you – Toyota Corolla

3.5-4L will give you a 2010-11-12 Altis. Just take the car you shortlist to the Toyota A.S.S & for a nominal fee, they will check your car & give you the service history.

Choose well & you’re in for years of trouble-free ownership!

Happy hunting

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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