Pre-owned Toyota Corolla Altis E140: A detailed ownership report

Finding a well maintained Altis in TN is such difficulty and to find one directly from the owner has chances of next to nil. Also, the prices of Altis are too high and I was super jealous looking at all the mouthwatering prices I could see for cars elsewhere in India!

BHPian freakmuzic recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

#This will be a lengthy thread as the process of my purchase was pretty lengthy!

1989 Premier Padmini (bought in ’95) – 2010 Maruti Wagon-R – 2010 Tata Nano – 2014 Hyundai Eon – 2015 Tata Nano(II)

This has been the entire history of cars in my house. Other than the Padmini which I did not even get to drive properly (I wasn’t 18 then), none of them had a 4 cylinder engine. As an automobile lover, as someone who loves driving with family, I always missed a comfortable & spacious car. Each time our family does a trip, the conversation of what car to buy next would creep in but due to career related reasons and us being in different cities, buying a big car never truly materialised as everyone of us needed a tiny city car.

Since 2020, I once again truly felt the itch to have a family car as I always had this wish to make road-trips with my family. I slowly started hunting for my choices and saving funds for the same.

Back in 2021, thanks to T-BHP and its countless used car reviews, my determination to go the Used route was very very strong! But still, I used to check whatever car that gets launched. I was open to a wide range of buying options but wanted to find a car that:

With all these factors in my mind, I test drove a lot of new and used cars in the last one year. Had set a budget of 10 lakhs if it’s a new car, and with Used, I wasn’t quite sure where to draw the line.

New Cars:

1. Tata Altroz 1.5D – This is a Car that I loved the most – super nice to drive, good diesel engine, very comfortable and sufficiently loaded with features. If going for a new car under 10, I might have gone with this.

2. Honda Jazz 1.2 CVT – Looking at the atrocious pricing of used Jazz, I went ahead and test drove a new one (facelift). The cabin was super silent with the engine being ultra refined. CVT was convenient but made the car feel a little sluggish – I was convinced I could never drive enthusiastically with this one. But space was great, build felt good. Though I could not help but complain about the lack of rear headrests!

3. Honda City 1.5 Petrol (Manual & CVT) – The Sales executive looking at my partial dissatisfaction with the Jazz suggested why not try the City V Manual as the prices will be only slightly higher than the Jazz ZX CVT. I ended up trying out both the Manual and Automatic. The car does look super long and sure is amazingly spacious inside. Loved the seats and the driving position. The engine though free-revving, felt noisy inside the cabin (in comparison to the Jazz). I could hear everything above 2k rpm. This car, unlike the Jazz, felt powerful and even the CVT was decent. But the build of the car felt light and overall kept me wondering ‘Is this what I would get for 15 lakhs?’

4. Hyundai i20 1.0 DCT – Our family surely had no plans to buy a Hyundai again as our experience with the Eon hasn’t been great and Hyundai as a brand has not appealed to me personally. But I never miss giving an opportunity. So test drove the latest i20 turbo DCT. Loved the driving experience and gizmos and it drove better than the previous generation. But the car felt a bit too low for my liking and of-course the price was a major turn-off.

5. Tata Punch 1.2 Manual – This release felt like it was in the middle of nowhere – neither a tiny hatchback, nor a 4m CSUV. My mother loved the way it looked & asked if we can look at it as a replacement for our ageing Wagon-R and ended up test driving it. Other than the underpowered engine, everything was amazing as a package. But this wasn’t the kind of car I was looking at either.

6. Volkswagen Polo 1.0 TSI Manual – I surely knew this isn’t a car for 4 but just out of my interest to test myself with an enthusiasts car, went ahead and test drove a Polo TSI. The total driving experience was lovely but the car sure felt old in every way. And, I would have loved to have seen the 4-cyl engine retained as I definitely didn’t want to drive a 3-cyl engine anymore.

7. Kia Carens 1.5D Manual – This car was tried out just for the love of MUVs of my father. I loved the car, the quality and the comfort. The features were very well decided from one variant to another. The entry pricing was sure a marketing gimmick as anything that a regular buyer would look for will cost at least 15 lakhs on road. I tried the diesel but wasn’t very excited with the power but overall, loved the seating position and everything else about the car – esp, the refinement!

8. Ford Freestyle 1.5D – Absolutely loved the Diesel engine and the driving experience but the car felt light and boot was small. I was also worried about Ford shutting shop at that time.

9. Ford Ecosport 1.5D – What a difference in build quality compared to the Freestyle! Though it felt slower than the Freestyle, it was so good at everything else. Ride was stiff and my mother wasn’t happy with the rear seat.

10. Tata Nexon 1.5D Manual – I got to test drive the pre-facelift Nexon and my parents loved it but me not so much. The rear seats, though comfortable, had too much cushioning to my liking and the interiors felt a bit claustrophobic to me. Otherwise, everything was great.

Used Car Search

It’s a given that finding a used car is a tedious process so yes, the entire length of my search is being penned here so that it might help anyone who’s looking at a used altis and the probable kind of examples one would find in the market.

The list of Used cars I was looking at initially were:

1. Honda Jazz CVT – My first search for used cars was the Jazz CVT primarily because of it being a reliable automatic and it not having a 3k rev speed at cruising speeds. But all cars were atrociously priced. The first example was priced very temptingly in Cars24 (1.5 years ago) but it got sold even before I could take a look.

2. Honda City 2012-2013 – Loved the facelift, increased ground clearance and everything about the car except the short gearing (manual). But couldn’t get hold of a low run, well kept and decently priced example at all.

3. Maruti S-Cross 1.6 – Out of my love for its crazy engine and the memory of test-driving it when launched, I checked out a couple of examples but was saddened by how low-rent the interiors felt in the examples I checked and the un-refined nature of the car. Either the examples were bad or these cars weren’t holding up as well as I thought it would after 50k – 60k kms.

In 2021 July, out of the blue, my cousin in Kerala called me up saying there’s a 2014 Corolla Altis up for auction at their work place and that they might invite tenders soon. It was a VL-At, run around 50k and I went and checked it out the next week. It was an amazingly maintained car but it looked and felt super huge to me for my use. I wasn’t really sure if I should go for it. And I couldn’t put down a big number right away for a used car. So we gave a low quote and some one else got it, still at a mouthwatering price.

But since that experience, I was sure what I was looking for is available only in the D-segment or similar UVs. I wanted this solid experience coupled with good reliability. I researched a lot on maintenance costs and what car I need to go for. Lots of amazing threads in T-BHP came to my rescue. I realised an Altis would be a good balance between all the aspects I was looking for. The following are the various used Altis examples I had checked there after.

Used Corolla Altis

1. Grey E170 2014 Altis VL AT (1st owner, company owned, 50k kms) – This was the car I had mentioned previously. It was a great example other than the fact that the owner had put seat covers over leather seats! It was a car for the MD of the company and he sure had his own choices.

2. Grey E170 2014 Altis G Manual (1st owner, ~55k kms) – Lanson U Trust – This was a decent car but the asking price was little too high and as I said before, I still felt this Altis to be pretty bulky though dimensions aren’t that different from the old one

Here comes the biggest twist in my Altis hunt – the one and only @vigsom. I always had a liking for the E140 Altis and not the E170 and that led me to his amazing thread of helping his friends purchase and maintain three of E140 examples. I had left him a message to thank him for the wonderful thread and asking for FNG suggestions in Chennai. He immediately responded and we got on call and started discussing about the below mentioned car!! I was super surprised to know he already had an idea of this car as a friend of his had checked it out. An intense phone call of 30-40 mins got me wondering how does this man know so much about the Altis and how kindly was he guiding a noob like me.

3. Pearl White 2012 Altis 1.8 GL (2nd owner, 78k kms) – This car looked good in picture (I was away from chennai) and as soon as I reached Chennai, went and checked out the car. It was decent though it did have its own share of works to be done. One headlamp was cracked, the suspension had some work to be done (Service history recommendation showed the same), steering wobbled above 80 kmph, there were a few dents and scratches, lumbar adjustment didn’t work. But interiors were clean and I could see the entire service history. Altogether I had to shell out around 60-70k to get it in full shape to my liking. I could have got this for around 4.1 as it was an Outside TN Re-registered 2nd owner car (TN car sentiments work this way I realise) but it was picked by someone else on the same day I checked it out.

4. Champagne Mica Metallic 2012 Altis VL AT (3rd owner, 1.29L kms) – This was just a random check as I never wanted to not miss a chance to check an Altis. This ad was up on Olx for a long while and had a fancy number with a quote of 4.5 L. Went on a Sunday and checked the car in person – body was decent, bumpers have been worked on (like in most examples), engine bay looked decent but one of the headlamp clamps were half broken. Interiors surprisingly looked good for such a heavily run car! Everything was working and next was a test drive. The first impression was quite good and I realised how tight even an 1.3 L run Altis could be! But the suspension needed work, brakes were spongy and weak and somehow felt the CVT wasn’t as smooth as it should be (revs were held higher). Plus, the conversation I had with someone the dealer connected stating as the owner was a little weird and I got no leads about it’s service history in any of the Toyota Service Networks in TN. The car was easily available for 3.75L. Discussed in detail with @vigsom sir and decided against it in the end.

5. Grey 2015 Altis VL AT (1st owner, 35k kms) – This ad looked spooky right from the word go as it was priced at 8L. But went ahead and checked it. The car looked sparkling clean from the outside. Got the keys, and opened the drivers door – there comes a heavy squeak from the front door. Mind you, this is the first Altis I’m seeing having any squeaks at all. And the door was jammed in the 2nd stage opening position and needed a fierce pull to open further. I kneeled down to examine and the spookiness reveals itself – RUST! On further inspection, there was rust on all door joints that were shoddily patched up and rust was visible even inside the engine bay. I anyways took a test drive and felt something wrong with the CVT unit too. @vigsom sir had already mentioned it might be an accidental or flood affected car looking at the registration plate and the inspection confirmed it!

6. Pearl White 2013 Altis 1.8 GL (2nd owner, 78k kms) – I had seen this ad on Carwale in Jan end but by the time I called the owner up, the car was sold. But around the same time I was checking out the next car, the same car popped up from a dealers Olx page. Concerned, I called up the previous owner but he told me if it’s a dealer, it’s okay. Man, the whole Used car market felt so shady and like everybody’s cool with it. The car was so clean from the outside and inside, drove very well, had the very last service bill with brake pad and disc change mentioned. Asking price was steep at 6.2. But then tyres were old and this car didn’t have insurance either.

7. The Final Find – Silver 2011 Altis VL AT (1st owner, 54k kms) – I loved the image of the car posted on Olx by a dealer. I was waiting at RA Puram as a work got delayed and quickly decided to visit this dealer in RA Puram itself. About the car – the body looked good with minor scratches/dent here and there. What got my immediate attention were the missing headlamp washer cap, a broken tail lamp and a worn-out steering leather. To add on top of it, it had no insurance. A quick chat with @vigsom and we thought this car needn’t be considered at all.

But then I thought of taking a test drive. The car drove wonderfully well and felt the tightest of all the E140 examples I drove till date. Interiors looked very clean except for the steering leather and some fading on the silver accent. I wasn’t too confident about the Used car Dealer but then I remembered reading on T-Bhp about how buying a Used Car should be just about the Car and not the Dealer. So I decided to probe as much as I can. Upon asking dealer for Service records, I was told it was serviced last in Lanson Toyota in 2019 and post covid, no service has been done as it was not used much by the owners. I turned suspicious and called up Lanson and they confirmed the last service to have been done at 42k kms in 2019 as mentioned by the dealer. This cleared the suspicion of odometer tampering from my head. Good bits – tyres changed in 2021, clean interiors, CVT seemed to work well, all lights and bulbs working well (other than the broken tail lamp), coolant was pink. Bad bits – headlight washer cover missing and they did not pop out (same in all the E140 Altis samples I checked), broken Right tail lamp, worn out steering leather, slight noise from Right suspension and a replaced front windscreen in 2013. Price quoted was 5.8L which was too steep to my liking. I told them I’ll be interested only if its under 5 and walked off.

They called me back next day asking whether I’m interested and tried luring me with words of other customers checking this car out. I was adamant with my offer and @vigsom guided and connected me with his trusted Chennai Mechanic and the very next day I checked out the car once again with him. He test drove the car as well, checked it out from everywhere and even ran a scan. He gave a thumbs up and highlighted just a few works to be done – steering column might need some lathe work as he could hear a thud once in a while, brake pads replacement and calliper needs to be corrected. Otherwise he said even the Engine Oil looked healthy. I was concerned about the windscreen replacement as the dealer some silly reason for it but the mechanic confirmed there is absolutely no major body damage.

So my expenditure would be the price of the car + insurance + these works which looked decent to me. I asked them to finish the deal at 4.9L. They asked me to come to their office the next day to discuss and were wanting to close it at 5L + commission. Some last minute price bump and I sealed it for 5.05 in total.

Later on, I also got access to the Toyota Connect App which had all detailed service history right from Day 1. This car had been treated with 1L worth Accessories right after delivery (Chrome accents, Headrest screen which has been removed by the owner, Led floor lights, illuminated door sill, sunfilm, etc.). I could also retrieve all the accidental works done (One ORVM replacement, bumper work, rear fender re-painted) and I felt it was okay for a car that was primarily used only in the City.

Finding a well maintained Altis in TN is such difficulty and to find one directly from the owner has chances of next to nil. Also, the prices of Altis are too high and I was super jealous looking at all the mouthwatering prices I could see for cars elsewhere in India! But when I compare these prices with Used Honda City’s, Jazz, etc, it seems to be a very good price for what’s on offer.

I can’t thank @vigsom sir enough for what all he’s done. We would have had at least 25-30 phone calls over the last two months and he was always ready to help even while at work, travel or whatever situation it is. It was so inspiring to know how much he knew and still wants to know about these vehicles. I surely can not thank him enough

Continue reading BHPian freakmuzik’s ownership review of his pre-owned Corolla Altis for more insights and information.

Source: Read Full Article