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Here are some exciting car deals!

Srinivas Krishnan | April 16, 2005

You are absolutely shameless. You don't mind bargaining with the shop assistant at Gabbana or waiting for two rupees change from the parking attendant or taking a doggie bag after you've finished your meal at the Zodiac Grill.

In other words, you want Rs 1.15 back for every Re 1 you spend. Hey, there's nothing wrong in asking for more bang for the buck -- well, I sure am like that.

It's precisely for people like us that car manufacturers release their cleverly packaged value-for-money editions. They take a model from their line-up that's towards the end of its life, settle on an entry level price, bung in a few necessities (and not goodies) like airconditioning, power steering, power windows and central locking, and there you are a VFM volume seller.

Not just bargain hunters, people going for these VFM deals are typically those upgrading from the B-segment, those who fall under a certain bracket to get one as a company car, small business entrepreneurs and sometimes even first-time car buyers.

We have put together a bunch of five cars that we believe offer decent VFM now.

They may not exactly be avant garde crossover segment busters or sizzling new machines, and in fact, have been a part of our landscape for years now, but they do a good job of meeting your current needs. If you do decide to go for one of these bargains, don't forget to ask the dealer for a free dusting cloth and a box of tissues too.

Ford Ikon Flair

The Flair edition of the Ikon has turned out to be a volume maker for Ford. It is powered by the 70 bhp 1300cc Rocam engine that does a de- cent job of hauling the hatch-based three-box around.

Euphemistically speaking, the Ikon is a veteran in the market, but there's no doubting its popularity. Ride and handling is better than, let's say, the Esteem, but it's nowhere near what our favourite Fiats offer. Maybe it's built to a cost, but the Ikon is a good entry-level three-boxer to go for.

What's the deal?

Power steering, power windows, central locking, airconditioner

What's the price?

Rs 5,28,550 ex-showroom Mumbai

What to do?

For Rs 15,000 extra, you get the celebratory, limited edition Josh 100 kit -- music system, leather vinyl seat covers, fog lamps, anti-theft security system, left-hand side mirror (!) and the inevitable Josh 100 sticker (wow!)

What else?

If you want to save a bit and don't mind an even more dated sedan, the Maruti Esteem is a good option

Hyundai Accent GLE

Like the Ikon, the Accent also has been a part of our landscape for quite some time now. The GLE version does not get the 101 bhp 1600cc DOHC unit, but the original 94 bhp 1500cc engine it debuted with.

No issues with that, as it's quite a relaxed performer compared to the highly-strung 1.6. Ride and handling of the Accent is nothing to write home about, but the car does a good job of handling your daily commute and the occasional weekend trip. Neat interiors too.

What's the deal?

Power steering, power windows, rear defogger, airconditioner, internally adjustable (manual) mirrors

What's the price?

Rs 5,45,082 ex-showroom Mumbai

What to do?

Forget the 1.6-engined variants. Further discounts are possible.

What else?

If you want a Japanese car, there's always the Baleno, but you'll have to pay for that

Maruti Suzuki Baleno LXi

At one time -- that is about three years ago -- Maruti was selling an average of just six Balenos a month in Mumbai. Today, that figure has multiplied almost 30 times!

The Baleno got a fresh lease of life only when Maruti made a proper price correction on it. Suddenly people realised they could get a car that had the attributes of the previous generation Honda City for less money.

Other than the revised price tag, the Baleno's refined 94 bhp 1600cc powerplant is its strong point. Except for its generations-old looks, there's nothing against this brilliant all-rounder.

What's the deal?

Power steering, power windows only for the front doors, airconditioner.

What's the price?

Rs 6,14,111 ex-showroom Mumbai

What to do?

Maruti usually runs some special promotions and schemes like free insurance and other goodies. Ask the dealer for the deal of the month. Remember, most of these deals are linked to finance schemes

What else?

Don't want to spend above Rs 600,000? Then there's always the Accent GLE. Or, ahem, the Esteem

Maruti Versa DX Standard

Even Amitabh Bachchan is powerless in front of a price cut. What the superstar and a big advertising budget couldn't do, a price revision and further variants in the Versa line-up did -- sell, instead of becoming a dud.

If you overlook its breadbox shape and if your wife is willing to climb aboard this 'car', the Versa makes for a compelling buy. The indomitable 82 bhp Esteem engine powers the rear wheels and the Versa's dynamics are well-sorted for a tall, Amitabh-like vehicle like this. Plus you can accommodate your extended family too.

What's the deal?

Er, nothing, not even an AC in the 5-seater entry-level version. However, power steering and power windows are available in the other variants

What's the price?

Rs 3,74,046 ex-showroom Mumbai.

What to do?

The 8-seater with single AC retails for as much as a five-seater, at Rs 4,51,155. Does your 8-member family really need the double AC version?

What else?

Nothing comes close to the unique Versa actually. It's number one in a field of one

Maruti Esteem LX/LXi

Another Maruti! Well, Gurgaon wasn't built in a day. The Esteem, Maruti's tired and ageing workhorse, received a bit of an indigenous nip-and-tuck operation... and yes, another price revision!

Shiny new headlamps notwithstanding, see how a price correction works wonders for sagging popularity charts.

Suddenly, we're willing to overlook the Esteem's dated lines and its humdrum interiors. Oh, but the Esteem does have its strengths -- a brilliant 82 bhp 1300cc engine that's peppy yet fuel efficient, reliability and low running costs. No wonder fleet owners love it.

What's the deal?

Only an airconditioner in the LX version. The LXi comes with AC, power steering and power windows

What's the price?

LX: Rs 4,57,559 / LXi: Rs 4,89,345 (both ex-showroom Mumbai)

What to do?

The LX is good if you have a chauffeur. In case you do your own driving, the LXi makes sense. As mentioned earlier, do look out for promos and schemes too

What else?

The Tata Indigo is aimed at the Esteem market, and has managed to dent its share a bit. See if the Indigo suits you.

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