I’m planning to buy a diesel sedan in the range of Rs 40-45 lakh. I test drove the new Audi A4, the BMW 320d and the Skoda Superb, and shortlisted the latter two. I didn’t like the A4’s low ground clearance and stiff rear seat. I drive myself and rarely get chauffeured around. I do a lot of long road trips across India with family and friends, and, hence, at times, drive over rough surfaces and sharp bumps.
So a decent mileage of about 10-12kpl, a good ground clearance, a comfortable ride and safety are my primary requirements. The car should also have good resale value, reliability and should be easy to maintain. I will be keeping the car for about 10 years.
I found the Superb to be cheaper by about Rs 10 lakh and it seems to offer more value for money. But I have read many articles about the failure of its DSG, problems with the AC, apart from other major problems with the Skoda, including aftersales. According to the showroom executive, the diesel’s ground clearance is 164 mm, but brochure mentions it as 149mm. Which is the correct one?
Also a few 320d crashes have resulted in fatalities; this increases my concern on its safety.
Ram Narayan. R, Chennai
AAA If you drive yourself, then you will find the BMW 320d far more enjoyable than the Skoda Superb. It has a punchy diesel, lovely handling and a very driver-focused ambience. As far as ground clearance is concerned, the figures in the brochure and what the sales person may tell you may vary because the sales person may be quoting a figure when the car is unladen, whilst the brochure possibly lists the ground clearance figure in laden condition which is how it is now being measured. These figures apart, bear in mind that the Skoda Superb, Audi A4 and 320d as sedans are inherently low slung, which means you have to keep a watch out for big speed breakers and bad roads. It is only an SUV that will offer you that extra margin of safety as far as ground clearance goes.
Coming to your other queries, Skoda’s DSG issues are now a thing of the past; it was an issue in the older Superb. There are no instances of gearbox failure that we have heard of in the new Superb. With regards to the safety of the 320d, it’s unfair to pin the incident of fatality on the car as it has terrific crashworthiness and is actually a very safe car. These fatalities were caused by drivers crashing at ridiculous speeds and no car could have saved them. One thing is for sure though, the BMW is so nice to drive it does tempt you to go quickly! So your well being is finally up to you, the driver.