In 1971, my parents bought a two door Toyota Corolla with a 1198 cc engine. We grew up, happily flipping the front seat to get to the rear. Five of us traveled with great pride in the first car our family, and the second car of the entire extended family. It was a left hand drive and bought in Kuwait while it was still one of the prettiest cities in the world. A left hand drive, we all learnt driving - even on Indian roads on that car. My daughter travelled as a 2 month old, strapped to the seat with a snugly, in that car - DHB 4511. It was reluctantly given up after almost 40 years of service, 7 years ago.
In 2003, we bought our own(my husband and I) Toyota Corolla in Muscat. This time it was a 1600 cc and again, a left hand drive. We traveled up and down the Sultanate of Oman - to beaches and over mountains, to see Turtles and visit friends in Sohar, carrying our tents, food, fishing rods and beach wear, tumble weed gathered in the desert roadside... and when we sold it before coming back to India, it fetched us a great price.
So when it came to buying our next car, replacing the Santro, I fell in love with the Cross and booked an Orange one, despite the fact that there was no spec sheet. After a long wait(unheard of these days) I got the call that the car was in, and I could come collect. When I reached Galaxy Toyota at Dwarka - I came to know that the Cross we had chosen - 1200 cc, was not quite the car we wanted. No airbags, no ABS brakes. Since we have lost a friend to a head on collision within the city, we wanted basic safety features. The other variant was 1500 cc and 2 lacs too expensive. Our budget would have been over stretched.
Galaxy Toyota representatives came up with the last year model - the Sportivo - a Etios hatchback. It seemed to have all the features I desired in a car - airbags, ABS brakes and the cherry on top - was the peppy 1500 cc engine in a small car. As a designer I appreciated the thin silver line on the skirting. The boot was spacious, the seats did not feel cramped, though the interiors did feel a little cheap- especially the seat fabric. One of the first things we did after buying the car was to get the seats covered.
Then, within the week we started seeing issues with the car. The display of the sound system had damage. It took you over 2 months to get that changed - after I was questioned on how we might have damaged it. There was sound from the chasis - which was fixed by the use of some rubber parts and the company had a special kit ready for it. The first rain brought out the menace of the windscreen - which after several visits, writing to head office and follow-up with Galaxy Toyota - was changed after 6 months - that's how long it took you to figure out that there was a REAL problem! All this while, the fuel economy remained bad. And I have complained and complained and complained. It has made me feel small and petty - because complaining does not come naturally to me. After 25+ years of driving various vehicles, I should know better and yet time and again I have been asked if I was driving long distances or short, whether I was checking the mileage from full tank to full tank. The first time someone did a test ride to check mileage - he could eke out no more than 11.5 kms/lt while driving in the absolute ideal way - maintaining a low speed, rare braking, etc.
Lucky for Toyota Galaxy the the next test ride was done under absolute premium, A-grade ideal conditions - low traffic, clear roads, and on the highway - 5th September 2015. With an ARAI rating of 16.78 kms/l, I would think that actual (though near perfect) conditions would mean a lower average. I made the mistake of not getting out of the car while getting it topped up on the return journey.
Apparently the car gave an average of 16.8! Isn't that amazing? The more I think about it, my disbelief at that time seems more and more justified.
Shall we look at the paint on the car? Way back in March, I was running the hand over the bonnet to dust off a few leaves and saw a bump - not big - just about 5 mm x 1.5 mm. It was on the side panel on the right side of the car. I ran my nail over it and it simply chipped off, showing galvanized metal under. This truly shocked me. There were no scratches, no bumps any where near, and this tiny bit of paint peels off! Since I paint motorcycles, I am confounded as to why this should happen. I start taking a closer look at all of the car. The rear panel on the left has abrasions around the wheel well and the metal under it is rusting. The rear left door has a dent near the wheel well, WITHOUT a scratch or dent on the rear side panel, and the metal is rusting. Over six months later, the scratch on the front side panel has still not rusted. Luckily(?) for me, while bringing the car back in May this year, the driver damaged the car on the self same rear door and therefore the body shop repainted and repaired the whole section- at no cost to me.
And lets not even start off on the brake sound coming from the rear - every time. The car was taken a week ago - 9th September for all the sounds the car was making - brake, front dashboard right side, rear seat, various rattling sounds from the body. By 12th September, the brake sound is back with a bang. and again I am requested to take it to the workshop to set it right.
In the past year and three and a half months - the car has been to Moti Nagar workshop of Galaxy Toyota workshop over 10 times. It has spent over 20 days being fixed! And this is the first year of a new car. Am I being unreasonable in expecting that a new car should give me a minimum of trouble free three years, especially when the average usage is under 1000kms/month? For your reference - the Maruti Omni(1994-5 model), Hyundai Santro(2006), Maruti Swift(2007) - all gave me at least five years of trouble free performance, while average usage/month was always over 2500kms, and often over 3000. The Verna Fluidic (2012) continues to give an excellent, trouble free ride, as does my 2011 RE Thunderbird .
I do not wish to retain this car. I really do not wish to subject myself to more angst. For me, buying the Toyota was coming home... however, this unit clearly fails all Toyota Standards. And that is when I did not imagine that the Etios I was buying was a luxury car. No, I won't sell it off to an unsuspecting person. If you won't take the car back, I will then take recourse to publicly sharing my experience across every media possible. I will use my option to address the consumer court. Let me be very clear that this angst does not even take into account the off putting manner in which Galaxy treats me.