The choice: I was hell bent on purchasing the Tata Safari (there are no reasons and justifications - I love the Safari and thats that) and was on the way to take a final test drive. My wife was with me and was not very happy about my choice, but was still being supportive. On the way to the TATA showroom, I saw a Chevy Cruze being test driven, and on an impulse decided to go an take a look at it. So with a quick U-turn in my trusty Swift, I headed towards the nearest Chevy showroom (Pashankar Auto, PCMC branch, Pune). Over there, after initial formalities, I got into the Cruze, with my wife riding shotgun, and the sales rep, Rohan, sitting behind. I asked for the keys and was told that the vehicle is keyless (raised eyebrows from me), and that it takes a push button to start the vehicle (eyebrows raised higher). Now I consider myself pretty tech savvy, but where a car goes, I prefer the manual shift, key ignition and doors that DO NOT get unlocked by proximity, and I voiced my opinions to Rohan. He was quick to tell me that there is a lower model which has all the manual features, so it should not be an issue. So leaving that behind, I pushed the button, the car roared to life, and by the time Rohan was giving me further instructions, I had shot off - literally! I liked the "diesel rocket" effect, but with some reservations. The drive was fabulous, the power drive, even better !! The die hard Safari fan in me was slinking away, kilometer by kilometer. Beside me, my wife was seeing my changing intentions and seemed very happy about it. By the end of the drive, I had decided to purchase the Cruze. Just to close the deal with a final opinion from my dad, I took the test drive car to our house to get my dad to try it out. When my dad got behind the wheel, I got in behind him in the rear seat, and that's where I realized that the car is very compact, and to an extent, cramped in the rear seating. My dad and me, both being tall, require leg space, and with both of us sitting on the same side (him in front, me behind), I realized that the leg space isn't that great - rather, it is pretty uncomfortable, especially on long drives. That's when my dad passed a comment that the console of the car was too crowded, too much stuff, too jazzy - and then it struck me that the overbearing, enveloping console was the exact thing that had been nagging me earlier. I am the kind of a guy, who is not sold by "features" like inbuilt bluetooth, music systems, push buttons (duh), proximity sensor keyless entry (strict no-no), console colours and other superficial stuff. I need the car to have good specs and performance. The Cruze no doubt has great internals, but the seating and the too-much-console was putting me off. And that's when I remembered the Optra Magnum Diesel - the "original" rocket. For some reason, I had completely missed out on that (shame on me). But now with the Safari out of the picture (shame on me again), my scope had just expanded, and I decided to take a quick look at some other options. To cut the story short, these are what I considered : Chevy Cruze - The car that got me to change my mind about the Safari, not by any technical comparison (no point in doing that), but by the sheer awe that I felt about the Cruze. Frankly, I would have had the Safari today if I had not gone in for that fateful test drive. Pros : Excellent engine, excellent power and pickup, decent mileage, great looks Cons : Not so great rear seating - kinda compact, overbearing console, too eager to jump. Hyundai Verna Fluidic Pros : Stunning design, great interiors and features Cons : Awkward rear seating, cramped, engine not powerful enough (afterall, I had just driven the Cruze), didnt find it worth the price VW Vento Pros : OK looks, "German engineering (whatever)", decent mileage, decent power (crap compared to the Cruze) Cons : Engine not as powerful (potentially), Cramped (really cramped) rear seating, logo stealer magnet (too many Ventos seen with stolen logos), not such great value for money, over hyped by the talking newspaper advt. Chevy Optra - Well, this would have come in before the Vento, but the dealer did not have a vehicle to show me Pros : Sleek looks, Excellent engine, Excellent power and pickup, Fully loaded, spacious (bloody couch in the rear), decent mileage (esp for the power it gives), great Value for money Cons : Well, this is my review, and my views, and I did not find any cons, so I went ahead and bought it !! (You kinda tend to ignore the cons when you are in love with that thing) I was planning on taking a look at the new Fiesta, the Octavia and the Laura, but after seeing the Optra, I just stopped my search - no point going to ten places when your heart is already set on something!! Right, so once I had done my superficial study and comparison, and had decided on the Optra, I visited Team BHP's reviews on the Optra. There I was thoroughly convinced that I was making the right choice. And so from nearly buying the Safari, then switching over to the Cruze, I decided on the Optra Magnum Diesel. I absolutely hate Chrome, can't bear leather, and am not inclined towards the benefits of ABS, so the LS it was for me. And with my intention of getting on Bilsteins and a remap or Pete's box (after all, near to 160 bhp / 400 nm is definitely tempting) after 1 year, the saved money was definitely going to be useful! Now this was around the last week of April 2011, and I realized that 6th May 2011 was Akshaya Tritiya, one of the most auspicious occasions for Hindus. With all my previous vehicles having been delivered on Akshaya Tritiya, I did not want to let go of the opportunity of getting the Maggy too on Akshaya Tritiya. But this was easier said than done. I had two major issues : 1. Optra delivery had a 1.5 months waiting period 2. The loan processing would take some time from any bank. I asked various agencies for the Optra Magnum Diesel LS - Sand Drift Grey, but there was none in stock. That's when my dad came to the rescue again. He got in touch with some of his acquaintances at GM and the 1.5 months waiting was brought down to 4 days - yippee!! The car was dispatched from Halol the very next day. Thanks GM!! At the same time, some contacts from the State Bank of India were also very helpful and I got my loan processed within 4 days. To add to the entire experience, Mr. Rohan Patil from Pashankar Motors and the branch manager, Mr. Prashant Pore were extremely helpful and offered me a very sweet deal! I got the Insurance waiver (GM offer), a hefty corporate discount, and additional local discount, mud flaps, floor mats, car cover and window sun protective filming as a part of the deal - it was a sweet deal indeed! I would highly recommend Pashankar Motors, Pimpri Chinchwad and especially Mr. Prashant Pore and Mr. Rohan Patil to anyone who would like to go for a Chevy in Pune. They were the guys who made the purchase process extremely smooth for me, not to forget the people at GM who made the delivery possible! When the vehicle came in to the stockyard, Mr. Prashant, the manager, himself took me for the PDI (something which I had prepared thanks to TBHP). I checked all the details, got the PDI pics, saw the VIN ( MA6NFADDBBHXXXXXX ) and the placard near the front left door showing Manufacturing date as DB and realized that this was freshly baked! The car was from the April 2011 batch, one of the latest batches. Completely satisfied with the PDI, I went home, eager to get the delivery done asap (but still had to wait a few days for the Muhurat).. And then the day came when I finally took possession of the car. We reached the showroom early in the morning to avoid the Muhurat rush. The car was ready with all the promised accessories. I was given a detailed explanation about the features and servicing (and I was like... get it over with fast, just let me get behind the wheel!!). The customary Pooja was carried out. Mr. Prashant Pore himself checked that everything was in order and as a surprise, presented me with an exquisite GM keychain (not the reqular ones) - a small gesture, and totally unnecessary, as I was already very happy with them, but nevertheless, something which I liked and appreciated! Finally I got in behind the wheel, and what a feeling it was!! I remembered the drive in the Cruze, and couldnt help but compare, and here are my observations : For those of you who understand dogs, the Cruze is like a Rottweiler, very energetic and powerful, but a little less in the head. Too aggressive, and always straining at the leash, trying desperately to jump ahead. (Definitely not something I want in bumper to bumper traffic.) The Variable Geometry Turbo does provide a linearity, but you need to be on your toes to handle the power. But the Optra is like a well trained German Shepherd, powerful yet intelligent. Ready at your beck and call, heeding and responding to every command. Giving you the power when you need it, but not pushing away unnecessarily. The Fixed Turbo has a lag, noticeable on 1st and 2nd gears, but it prevents the car from being jumpy. And the "Warp Zone" effect (Star Trek) is something that the lag actually accentuates, something that I did not get in the Cruze. Once I got into the car, I just could not get out. I dropped my wife off to work amid some heavy traffic, and the car handled beautifully. I just kept finding reasons to keep driving, and till today, I am still not over it!!