What car? Learning from personal experience

Buying a new car is always an exciting journey. No matter which category of car we are planning to go for, it always turns out to be an interesting time in our lives. For me personally, it took me one year to upgrade from Hyundai Santro to Honda Jazz, way back in 2010. Then again in 2015, I decided to replace my Jazz and finally bought a S-Cross in 2016. It was a time consuming process due to various reasons. One common situation we all run into is the lack of choice when we actually start applying all our product preference filters 🙂

In this post, I will summarize the various factors that influenced my buying decision and selection of a particular trim in the finally selected mode. I will also talk about my views of these features after I started using them in the new car. It will also be good to understand what features should make it into your “deal breaker” list and which ones can be safely skipped.

Feature perception – before and after purchase

While evaluating various models, we generally have 5 fundamental expectations – fuel option, engine power, cabin space, mileage and reliability.

These generally lead to 3 or 4 cars that we like and then we apply the next set of filters. These next set is where we can go wrong. Below table list 14 such next level features and my perception of their importance, before and after buying a car.

Car features (1)

As you can see, there are a number of features you will realize are not really important while making a buying decision. What matters the most are 5 fundamental reasons that you have already used.

Features that are not deal breakers

S Cross Zeta that I eventually bought has a number of features that I always wished my new car should have. But as a seasoned driver, it took just a few weeks to realize how little I use a number of such features.

Indicators on OVRM are of no use. I do not even think them make the vehicle look any better. Auto AC is not much different from manual AC; yes, the buttons/panels look little stylish but from a usage standpoint, you will not find much difference between the two. Touchscreen audio and navigation are another set of features that you easily live without. While driving, it is always a distraction to spend time on the touchscreen since you cannot get things done without taking your eyes off the road. Also, there is precious little you will gain from such touchscreen interfaces, as a driver.

Start/stop button is purely a non essential feature. You will not miss it one bit; do not bother to include this in your deal breaking list. Rear parking camera is something many of us tend to overestimate in utility. But this helps only in cases where you are dealing with stationery objects. If there are moving objects in the area where you are trying to park, the camera is a distraction. Instead, just make sure you have a basic parking sensor fitted.

Cruise control and sunroof are two other features that you will rarely use. Skip them.

I’m not saying that these features are useless to everyone – just that majority of us do not need them and hence it is not worth to include these features in our mandatory list while making a buying decision.

Features that are deal breakers

Bluetooth calling and steering mounted audio controls are very essential for a safe and easy driving. You are not required to take eyes off the road and steering wheel while doing basic things like changing songs, FM stations and responding to calls. Also, Bluetooth helps in playing songs from your smartphone to the vehicles audio system. Absolutely mandatory features.

Airbags and ABS are the key safety options you should not ignore. Especially considering the high accident rates on our highways, these features should be on top of you list.

Higher ground clearance is another factor that you should consider while evaluating cars. Indian roads do get bumpy frequently and a higher ground clearance makes things lot easier for the vehicle and you.

I hope these small insights into various features helps you in making a better buying decision. Do comment on this post if you have any questions!

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