Back in 2006, the most popular choice in the segment was the Wagon R (which remains so still) and also the Santro.
BHPian donabrh recently shared this with other enthusiasts.
Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers communicates the idea that good things, good friendships, and goodness, in general, make the world go round and make our life wonderful.
Like the goodness in the friendship among the inseparable Musketeers Aramis, Porthos, and Athos, ‘The Three Estilos’, is a story about the goodness in owning an exceptional vehicle which led us to continually own not One, not Two, but Three Estilos. Yes, we have three Estilos in the family, between both types.
- BLACK: Type 1, 2006, F10 series engine, 4 cylinder, LX, bought new. 55,000 KM now.
- SILVER: Type 2, 2010, K10 series engine, 3 cylinder, VXi, bought used in 2018. 44,000 KM now.
- BROWN: Type 2, 2010, K10 series engine, 3 cylinder, LXi, bought used in 2022. 82,000 KM now.
For a long time, I have been thinking about writing about this ownership experience. Kept putting it away but then when it happened the third time, well I thought why not share it.
A note about the picture above. The picture of the brown car is the one I clicked first. Parked the car under the fig tree and crossed to the other side for some work. When I looked back I liked the composition and vivid colors, especially the fig tree shedding its drying leaves and the green color all around. When I thought about writing this post, I thought why not have a fitting picture of the journey? So went back with the other two cars over a period of 2 – 4 weeks. But by then the colors had changed. More than nature, humans had intervened. Next to the road behind the black and silver cars, the green undergrowth is all gone. Surprising! Yes. Someone sprayed weedicide all across the roadside, which is powerful enough to dry out plants in a day. Sad!
What’s so special about the car to own three of them?
I believe the Estilo is an exceptional vehicle because it does what it is meant to do beautifully and in style, which is what the word Estilo means in Spanish. It’s an all-rounded car perfect for the daily commute and accommodates a small family in comfort with a large enough boot. The car is great to drive in the city and also decent enough for highway travels. Have done road trips without much fatigue.
Offers all round good visibility and good seating position compared to the period equivalent Alto / Wagon R (Alto has a low driving position whereas in a Wagon R K10 while you sit higher, the higher window line can be obstructive for shorter drivers). It is easy to navigate, park and reverse. Low on maintenance as parts are shared with a host of Marutis, can be serviced at FNGs. Frugal engine especially the K10 engine with a mileage of 16 – 18 KMPL. With periodic TLC the car ages well.
Biggest plus point as a used car buyer is you get a better bargain compared to a similar vintage Wagon R, which in effect is the same car except for the shell but commands a brand-related premium even in the used car market.
Safety may nowhere be comparable to the recent times but then irrespective of how many safety stars a vehicle has, it all depends on the person’s stars and depends on responsible and safe driving.
Aramis, the first Estilo in the family
Type 1, 2006, F10 series engine, 4 cylinder, LX, bought new. 55,000 KM now.
The car belongs to my father. Post-retirement he wanted to upgrade to a new car from the existing M800 which had been in use for almost 10 years. The new car was intended to be a daily driver for my parents for running errands around town with occasional out-of-town travel, overall averaging 200 KMs a month maximum, some months could be less than 50 KMs. Also of the 365 days in a year, only around 7 days would see all 5 seats occupied when everyone is home and around 50 days would see the front 2 seats occupied that’s when dad and mom would travel together. Rest of the days when the vehicle would be used it would be only my dad.
Back in 2006, the most popular choice in the segment was the Wagon R (which remains so still) and also the Santro. The Estilo was a new entrant with a fresh design and looked sleeker or rather less boxy. Most important it had the Zen moniker which was also a deciding factor for the initial buyers, but as we all later understood, to some extent that worked against the marketing of the car. Eventually, I believe people who bought the Estilo were those who wanted a Maruti and a car similar to the Wagon R. That’s what Maruti offered, ‘a choice’ to the potential customer who could look at the competition.
My dad being one of the initial buyers was sold on the Zen tag and also believed in trying out newer things. He did check with his contacts at Maruti about the new car and figured out it would have the same F10 series engine and transmission combo successfully doing duty in the Wagon R.
Purchase experience was happy and delightful, the SA being a relative oversaw everything. The picture below is a happy memory of the delivery. At that time the Estilo came in some peppy colors – yellow, pink, green, red, blue and the usual white, beige, black. There was a yellow car lined up for delivery and a glimpse can be seen in the picture.
The Good and The Bad of the Type 1, F10, 4 cylinder, LX Estilo
Four cylinders offer better driveability. The engine is very silent and when the engine is idling it is very hard to figure out if it is turned on, no vibrations are felt inside the cabin and no load on the engine is felt when the air conditioning compressor switches on. The car drives effortlessly in Gear 2 / 3 in slow-moving traffic without requiring frequent gear shifts. That becomes all the more evident when we alternate between the F10 (4 cyl.) and K10 (3 cyl.) Estilos.
It offers a mileage of around 13 – 15 KM/L city and highway, which has been consistent over the last 16 years and 55,000 KMs.
LX variant came with no power steering (PS), which is not missed much as most of us who drive at home started driving non-PS vehicles. Crawl the vehicle before steering is what we learnt and is the correct way to even steer a vehicle with PS, which some modern-day users may be unaware of. The correct method to steer puts less stress on the steering and suspension set-up. Non-PS set-up gives a feel of the road condition, steering turns back to centre after a turn (widely known concern with later Marutis) and to some extent controls the avoidable habit some drivers have of rotating the steering wheel when the vehicle is stationary. Also, there is no surprise element about how the steering behaves with or without the ignition turned on, it’s always the same.
Dad’s choice of color. The Black metallic color has blue crystals which under bright natural light become iridescent and spectacular to look at. The car in black looks stunning when clean and polished. Which is a task, with all-year-round rains and mud splashes. With periodic TLC including Turtlewax polish, the color and vehicle have aged well.
Lately, Maruti has stopped offering Black as a color option. Have not seen a black-colored Maruti after the Type 1 Swift (don’t remember if Type 2 came in black), Type 1 Dzire, SX4, Type 3 Wagon R K10 initial batch, Type 2 Estilo, Type 1 Alto. A color difficult to maintain could not be a reason because other dark shades are still on offer.
Cabin and Engine Space
Comfortably seats 5, though larger bodies in the back would be uncomfortable. Boot space for the overall design and from the outside looks limited, but is surprisingly large when the boot is opened.
In the engine bay, Type 1 Estilo with a shorter nose and an extra cylinder offers limited space for working around, but is a surprise and also a delight to see how a narrow space has been put to optimum use – form and function. When we go back in time and compare it with an Ambassador with a BMC petrol engine and imagine from the outside that big a hood would have that big an engine. But when the hood is lifted, lo and behold there is a puny-looking engine and the engine bay is almost half empty. A passenger or two can travel in the engine bay of an Ambassador if required.
After the initial 3 services the vehicle has been maintained at a known multi-brand FNG specializing in Maruti vehicles. Periodic maintenance is done between every 8,000 KM to 10,000 KM. Includes engine oil change, engine air and oil filter change, brake clean and oiling with necessary brake pad replacement or slave cylinder replacement if leaks are observed. Averages spend around INR 3,500 parts + labour.
6 – 12 months of under-body washing is done at a centre with a hydraulic lift set-up. Less water, the lesser the chances of rusting.
Tyre replacement around 20,000+ KMs, though the OEM set lasted more. The last set which was MRF had run around 20,000 KM over 9 years. Less use during COVID resulted in bulging in 3 of the set, all replaced. Average spend per tyre INR 2,900 JK – INR 3,500 Bridgestone, Apollo and MRF in between.
Non-use during COVID and continuous heavy rain resulted in the car becoming a labor room for rats. First instance had a mother rat with 10 odd babies, the car smelled of rat droppings and urine all over. Tail light wiring and a seat belt were chewed into. Cleaning the interior was a task, used multiple stick pads to catch all of them. Shampooed the interior. I guess the rat community has identified the car as a labor room and tries and get in once in a while. Stick pads take care of erring rats.
Mold formation in the car during monsoons is a persistent issue, cleaning with a mild soap solution keeps it under control. Also, the A/C cabin filter which is often overlooked gets mold due to high humidity. The mold gets blown directly into our noses. I am sure mold would also form inside the A/C plumbing which would get wet due to condensation and remains invisible and inaccessible.
In Marutis the A/C cabin filter can be easily accessed by dropping the glove box and is also inexpensive at around INR 350. So I replace the filter every 3 – 6 months as by then it would turn black with mold. I also leave Camphor / Kapoor in the folds of the paper filter, the fragrance directly pushes into the cabin. For mold in the A/C plumbing, I turn the heater on and run the blower on full in each flow direction the knob allows – direct to face, face and feet, feet only, face and windshield, windshield only. With the hope that the heat would dry the mold if any.
Mentioning about the A/C, a year back the evaporator coil had to be replaced which is an aluminium core something similar to a radiator but smaller. Installed inside the cabin behind the dashboard, the aluminium core sometimes develops holes and the refrigerant leaks. Known and fixable issue. The FNG did a decent and careful job of replacing the coil and cleaning the A/C plumbing and components. Cabin air smells fresh and less mouldy. In Estilo’s the dashboard has to be completely removed to access the coil. Expense INR 6,500 part + labor.
Last year got the RC renewed, with the increase in RC renewal charges the expense came to around INR 10,000.
What does the future hold for the car?
Well, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Let it run, till the time it is doing what it is meant to do beautifully and in style.
Porthos, the second Estilo in the family
Type 2, 2010, K10 series engine, 3 cylinder, VXi, bought used in 2018. 44,000 KM now.
The car belongs to my wife, we bought it used in 2018. She wanted a car for travelling to work with a usage pattern of 300 KMs a month. We thought of a new car with an INR 5 – 6 lakh budget and a car like Wagon R / i10 would fit the need. Also searched OLX for used cars in the same segment.
Back in 2018, the used car market was a buyer’s market. For new cars, in the same segment, multiple options were available across the competition and were affordable too hence the used car market was flooded.
We came across the 2010 silver Estilo, single owner, VXi full option, run 20,000 KMs over 8 years. Cost around 30% of a new 2018 Wagon R. Used Wagon Rs of the same vintage were being sold at a premium as usual.
As we had been using a similar car for some time, we knew exactly what to look for and what all could go wrong.
Purchased the car post all the basic checks which included:
- Documents and service records: RC / Insurance / PUC / No loan hypothecation / service record all in order and title was clear and embossed engine / chassis numbers matched. Cross-checked last service KM and service details at a Maruti Authorized centre and figured out the ODO reading was not tampered. No accidental or mechanical repair recorded unless done outside.
- Mechanicals: No fault lights were lighting up in the instrument cluster. Engine oil, Brake fluid, Coolant levels were normal, though the engine oil required replacement. Checked for oil leaks under the engine, around the engine valve cover, leaking brake master and slave cylinders dripping brake fluid inside the engine bay and wheel rims. Coolant color in the radiator and expansion tank looked normal. Clutch and brake pedal play felt normal. Drive axle boots were secure and had no grease leaking. Battery was fairly new and had 3 – 4 years of life left. All visible wiring inside the engine bay and under the dashboard was untouched.
- Body: Looked for accident repair and found none, though there were scratches and paint chipping on the bumpers. Headlamp and tail lamps both looked the same vintage and were not replaced. Front glass had the original factory stickers. No paint bubbling, bleeding on any of the panels. All panel gaps were even. Main beams inside the engine bay on which the engine is mounted and the tie member holding the radiator assembly had no repairs and were straight. Under-body had no rust.
- Expense post purchase: Roughly around INR 10,000 incurred for replacing two tyres and general service oil, filter, alignment, wash.
The Good and The Bad of the Type 2, K10, 3 cylinder, VXi Estilo
The engine and vehicle overall had the freshness of a fairly new car as it was driven less. Outright compared to the F10 engine the K10 engine is rough and noisy but it is not much of a deal breaker. You can hear the engine idling and mild vibrations can be felt inside the cabin. The load on the 3 cyl. engine is instinctively felt when the air conditioning compressor switches on. Slow-moving traffic can be navigated only in Gear 1 / 2.
Mileage is where the 3 cyl. K10 scores over the 4 cyl. F10 and offers a mileage of around 15 – 18 KM/L city and highway, which has been consistent over the last 4 years and 24,000 KMs of ownership.
The feature list compared to the base LX variant is incremental while some are useful some are good to have. Configurable Auto Lock, power steering, all 4 power windows, fog lamps, electrically adjustable rear view mirrors, rear window washer, wiper, defogger, and RPM meter in the instrument cluster. The RPM meter has its advantage and is a visual guide to help operate the engine at its optimum speed in each gear and adds to fuel efficiency. Have come to realize the speedometer is less important.
The car came with wheel caps. Have removed them as the wheels accumulate dirt behind the cap. Moreover, the VXi variant has black wheels which contrast with the lighter body color and look good. Have fixed small black wheel cups covering the hub.
In the used car market, color is not a choice. However, the lighter color is easier to maintain.
The long nose of the Type 2 Estilo and one cylinder less has liberated a lot of space in the engine bay.
Exactly the same as mentioned for the black car.
Athos, the third Estilo in the family
Type 2, 2010, K10 series engine, 3 cylinder, LXi, bought used in August 2022. 82,000 KM now.
The car belongs to my sister-in-law, we bought it used in August 2022. She wanted a car to learn to drive ‘haat saaf karne ke liye’ (to get the hang of things) and eventually for office commute. A new car was considered and she liked the 2022 Wagon R, but the thought of damaging a new car in the learning phase pushed her to consider a used car. Options considered were a Wagon R and an Estilo.
COVID, loss of jobs, production hit, semi-conductor issue, unheard of waiting periods, delivery backlogs, BS6 upgrade, and increasing tax rates on vehicles have pushed up the new vehicle rates exponentially. For some of the new cars, it’s difficult to visualize what is the value we as buyers are deriving from the incremental cost.
The current used car market is a seller’s market, an exponential increase in new car prices has incrementally pushed up prices in the used car market. In Kerala for a 12-year-old Wagon R, sellers are quoting INR 2.8 lakhs (not worth) non-negotiable, the reason given there is a long waiting period for new cars. Similar vintage Wagon R in Bombay is selling for less than INR 1.3 lakhs, reason greater supply of used cars.
Bizarre experiences while searching for cars: First bizarre experience, OLX AD mentioned the car had run 39,000 KM. Upon cross-checking with the Maruti service centre last service recorded was at 40,000 KM in 2019. It was a clear case of ODO tampering. Second bizarre experience, the person with whom I spoke with mentioned the owner on the RC was his uncle and was in the US. When I went to see the car upon checking if there would be any complications as the owner is not currently in town, a lady in the family mentions the person on the RC passed away a year back and that they were the legal heirs. Complicated situation, excused myself as I could easily get cars with clear titles.
Finally came across the 2010 brown Estilo, single owner, LXi mid variant, run 82,000 KMs over 12 years. Cost around 20% of a new 2022 Wagon R. Used Wagon R’s of the same vintage were being sold at a premium as usual.
Owning not one but two Estilo’s had by now equipped us with all the information we needed to evaluate the third one.
Purchased the car post all the basic checks as mentioned above in the silver car’s purchase process. Yes, the car showed age-related wear and tear but was one of the better options available. Some specific points are mentioned below:
- Happy Experience: Interaction with the family from whom we finally bought the brown Estilo was wonderful. It was a happy experience for both families. A welcome change when compared to all the bizarre experiences mentioned above.
- Mechanicals: Engine fault light was lit up in the instrument cluster. Figured out the O2 sensor was faulty. Did a cross-check with my FNG and they confirmed at the most the sensor had to be replaced. Figured out engine oil leak from between the valve cover, possibly the seal was worn out. Clutch pedal had a bit of a mileage-related play but still had life.
- Body: Paint touch-up had been done and there were scratches and paint chipping on the bumpers and some panels but liveable. Paint bubbling and bleeding on some panels, were again liveable. Plastic trim inside the front doors where the elbow rests, had cracks. Headlamp was all discolored and yellow due to extended exposure to sun and heat. Hard rubber around the steering wheel was spongy again due to exposure to sun and heat.
- Expense post purchase: Roughly around INR 17,000 incurred for replacing two tyres, O2 sensor INR 2,500. Other than that general service oil, filter, alignment, wash. An adhesive was applied to the leaks in the valve cover seal. Crack in the plastic trim inside the front doors where the elbows rests, were plastic welded. A steering cover took care of the spongy steering rubber. Oh yes! about the discolored yellow headlamp lens, the paint shop at the FNG polished the lens and restored most of it. Before and after pictures of the polished headlamp lens are as below.
The Good and The Bad of the Type 2, K10, 3 cylinder, LXi Estilo
Have already covered everything about the 3 cyl. K10 engine in the silver car section. However I felt the car rode more freer than the silver car with the same engine, don’t know why. It returned a mileage of around 16 KM/L in the city. About the O2 sensor, once it was replaced the idling got way smoother. What I understand it helps burn fuel more efficiently. While I got the faulty sensor replaced with a brand new one, I read online an O2 sensor can be repaired by leaving it in petrol overnight, untested.
The feature list compared to the full option VXi is lesser but has everything useful. Power steering and front power windows. Yes the RPM meter is missed, it has its advantage as I mentioned in the silver car section.
As I mentioned earlier, in the used car market color is not a choice. Brown color kept clean and polished is stunning but difficult to maintain.
Why I wanted to write this post?
While the characters in my story are decade-old vehicles, what I wanted to share is good and bad of owning and re-owning a machine.
More importantly, what I wanted to share is the addictive kick one gets searching for the right vehicle. Buying a new vehicle is effortless compared to buying a used vehicle. The search for a used vehicle is addictive because it fuels one’s knowledge and experience when we interact with all kinds of interesting people owners, brokers. While a deal may not happen but each interaction can be rated on varying scales of satisfaction.
Some of the stories shared by sellers to pull a fast one are hilarious some scary. Some of the vehicles we come across are so well kept, that the owners become a source of new information. Some of the vehicles are so shabbily maintained mechanically and visually, making you think about all types of potentially dangerous and risky vehicles running on our roads. Makes you realize some people treat vehicles as trash. Further such interactions sharpen our logic of scanning for bad and good situation, enhances our understanding of the market conditions, gives insight into the type of scams in the market, put to test our ability to bargain and close the deal at a price and terms satisfactory to both parties.
Post purchase fixing issues and bringing the vehicle back to mechanical and visual perfection is another level of joy and satisfaction. Through research, we come across varying sets of service providers offering unique and cost-effective services.
Overall feel proud that I could enhance the life of these machines and did not contribute to the ever-increasing carbon footprint, though my effort may be minuscule in the larger scheme of things.
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