So I went and checked the car out this morning, here are a few thoughts:
1.) The dealership is really out the way in the boonies of Karachi. So that is a hassle to take the car there for regular maintenance. As of right now, they have no plans for expansion (then again, what do the sales staff know about that)...so just keep that in mind.
2.) They claim to have sold 7 cars already and have had 10 people who are very interested. Now this number was given by a sales rep with no source what so ever; I do find the claim to be spurious but interpret it as you will.
They are willing to negotiate quite a bit though, by offering free servicing and other goodies
3.) From the test drive: it went perfectly fine. If I understand their literature correctly, the V2 has independent rear suspension which is something I really wanted. The car handled fine on rough roads (and in the boonies there are some really torn up roads). The engine was fine, I don't drive fast, so I can't comment on that, but there was enough speed when I needed to capitalize on small gaps. The car was able to start from 2nd gear (something I do often)...and yeah. It was fine... visibility wasn't an issue (though rear headrests do obstruct the view quite a bit).
The car did over rev a bit during gear shifts; though that could simply be because I haven't driven a manual in a long time. The fault was with me rather than the car.
The engine was smooth, idle was stable, AC worked well.
4.) Flaws from the test drive: the turn signal is on the left hand side (LHS) whcih is completely stupid for a right hand drive (RHD) car. For a RHD car, it should be on the RHS, so that you can indicate with your hand on the wheel and have one free hand to change gears. The current setup makes the turn signal completely useless. I've asked if this can be switched and they said they'll get back to me. If the car had an automatic transmission, this wouldn't be a major issue because you wouldn't need your left hand to change gears, but this is unworkable as it stands right now.
Another inconvenience that I had was taht no one could figure out how to adjust the steering; so unfortunately when I was driving, I couldn't see any instrumentation. The reason this became important, is that there was this constant clicking noise coming from the tachometer. I have no idea what it means or anything. But it did get irritating and hope that it goes away.
But so my biggest concern from the drive aside from rear visibility was the turn signal stalk. For me that's enough of an issue to seriously think about it
Apparently, and their marketing is very adamant to claim that this car comes form South Africa (you know the country that's a bastion for precision engineering) and not China; so the steering rack comes from a country with LHD and naturally the stalk is on the LHS. They didn't bother changing it once it came over here.
5.) Build Quality (Exterior): The only major flaw I have is that there is a somewhat large gap between the hood of the car and the body. Its clearly an intentional design, but I don't like it. Other than that, everything is fine more or less. No real complaints. I like that they tried to insulate the engine bay...which is a big bonus.
I like the rear stop lamp; the turn signals on the side-view mirrors, LED brake lights, and a slew of other goodies not available in the more expensive offerings.
6.) Build Quality (Interior): The materials used are surprisingly good; definitely comparable if not better than the plastics used in Corollas and Citys. So yeah, the interior is fine. There are two things that did look cheap: one the air condtioning controls seemed particularly flimsy (actually also the side mirror controls, the trip computer, and a few other gadets). And the key of the car does look rather cheap as well. But in all honesty, as long as they don't break, those are minor complaints.
I will say that there is no "surprise and delight," in the car. Nothing that makes you go wow that's cool. But for a low-budget vehicle, that's really not a big issue.
The interior space does feel a little tight.
7.) Interior complaints: Despite the car using better plastics (which btw is a horrible material to use in car construction) than Toyota and Honda, the car feels cheap.
And the reason for that is that they messed up on the interior design of the car. Just stupid design decisions are constantly reminding you that you are in a cheap vehicle. There is no thought that went into the car.
a.) There is a lot of thought and care that goes into placing a door handle. It goes in the most comfortable, ergonomically viable position of the door. In the V2, their thought process was: "We need a door handle, just put it somewhere." And so they did, in the middle of the door, which is quite uncomfrotable. And you're going to be operating the door handle a LOT (unless if you enter and exit your car like Starsky and Hutch) And this lack of care and precision is evident through out
b.) Granted the driver does have access to all 4 windows, but those controls are next to the handbrake, where half of them are covered by the driver seat. So you can't easily use them while driving
c.) Side mirror controls (use the same plastic as the AC) can't easily be accessed whilst driving.
d.) A lack of cup holders (minor issue)
e.) They clearly thought, "we should have folding rear seats," and they implemented that. But the seats barely fold to 45-60 degrees. Which in essense makes the folding function completely useless. First of all you need 2 people to fold the seat, due to two separate locks located on opposite sides, which is beyond bonkers. Then it doesn't even fold flat. Granted this is a feature they can advertise, but it is completely useless.
f.) Rear window controls are very uncomfortable to use. And there really aren't any armrests to relax on
g.) Steering wheel design is crude and uncomfortable to hold in any way besides the 10:00 and 2:00 positions
I could go on, but I think you guys get the picture
8.) Final Thoughts: I went in with high expectations, and in terms of driving the car, there really wasn't much wrong besides the turn stalk (though that and rear headrests are again indicative of poor design). But I did walk away feeling rather disappointed. Just becuase the car feels so cheap. Again for the most part this isn't because of the materials used, but rather the car feels cheap because of the lack of thought that went into the placement of the aforementioned materials.
My biggest complaint from the test drive (the turn signal) is symptomatic of this phenomenon as well.
The car's dimensions are slightly larger than a Swift's, but it feels more cramped. Suzuki (not PakSuzuki) spent money in designig their car, figuring out the optimal locations of switches and whatnot, and it does show. Which is disappointing because the car is as big as a Swift.
I honestly can't figure out if I am going to buy this car or not. It's got a better engine, more features, better build quality (trunk doesn't leak) than a Swift; but it's less well thought out than a Swift.
If you're in the market for a Mehran or a Wagon R, I would definitely urge you to save, spend a little more and get the V2. You will be much happier with the V2 than those two options.
If you want a hatchback...I don't know. I'll have to really think about it and wait for customer feedback. If you're not bothered by the lack of thought put into the car's design, then definitely get it over the Swift. It offers more and is cheaper
Even though the V2's resale value may not be as robust as the Swift's, I think you're still going to come out ahead due to you paying less upfront. So financially, it makes more sense to me as well
But if you can get a Passo or a Vitz in REALLY nice condition (my main impediment in buying these cars), then I have to recommend that. Of course getting a car in that condition is nigh on impossible for most people...so treat that as you will.
9.) Final concluding thoughts:
Even though I don't think the car is for me, at least not yet, I'm glad that they've itnroduced it and it makes a very good addition in the small selection of cars available here in Pakistan. If nothing else, hopefully it'll motivate Suzuki to update its Swift (the current version went out of produciton everywhere else in 2010 and introduce the features necessary to match the V2)
I would strongly urge anyone even remotely itnerested to check it out.
It's just not the panacea that I thought it was. Regardless of which car you buy here, its always a long list of compromises (quality, features, price, etc). The V2 is no different.