17 August 2009
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The perils of a holiday romance; of 10 days and one big temptation!
Posted By joseph
You are committed
But you are tempted
You know your partner back home is great looking
But this one seems to have something new
You remember all the great times spent with your love
But everyday is a new discovery on a getaway holiday
You know she loves you
But this one showers you with attention
In a way, my girl back home and my partner for this journey are not too different. The similarities are both striking and fatally attracting in this case. When you spend 10 days with someone who is so similar to the one you love and has some deceptively better traits, dangerous things are bound to happen.
As they did.
Now before all you guys start to get all happy and jumpy that the “budding romance” between Namrata and me finally blossomed, let me break the bad news!
Here’s my love back home. Pining for me!
That’s my 2006 Cedia Sports, a.k.a Blackhawk. I love her. She’s been tireless on the long drives and always added a pint of zest and energy to every single trip. She’s been reliable and carried on a flat tyre for 21kms once, and she has been exciting as ever on the expressway - 186kmph being the top whack so far. She look gorgeous and is super comfortable to live in. And she’s mine.
BUT for the past 10 days…
...I have been drooling all over her not-so-distant cousin - the 2009 GDC Cedia Sports. Obviously the hot outfit she wears attracts attention wherever we go. I love taking her around and flaunting her!
Apart from the obvious flashy stickers, the exterior is slightly tweaked as well. The smoked headlamps are replaced by the clear-whites, and the O.Z wheels add a new dimension of cool and the grille is new as well. I have always loved the Cedia’s looks in the flesh and this one is no different. It is low-slung, has a great stance when parked, and looks fantastic from the front - in an almost classic sporty look. But the exteriors are only for the audience.
For the both of us in the car, it has been the interiors and the performance that have mattered the most. We have travelled 3100kms to date and spent more than 80 hours in the car (a third of each day!), and in this time the Cedia has become an integral part of our lives. It is time to look back at the experience.
Living it up
I say: Spending 30% of the day for 10 days on the trot in any car is not easy; especially when you hear all the horror stories about Indian highways! So let’s split this discussion up:
Suspension and comfort: To say the Cedia handled all kinds of roads with aplomb would be an understatement, it actually made driving fun on every single kind of surface. The suspension has endured through the bumps towards the Rann in Gujarat, the unbelievably potholed highways of MP, the backroads in all the many towns we visited, the heavy braking and high-speed runs along the expressways, and the disastrous times when we lost our way completely and ended up in barren fields! There was a slight noise from the rear strut which surfaced after Indore but it has mostly disappeared now - I can’t blame the car for this, the initial stretch of NH3 from Indore to Dhule is a nightmare!
Performance: This is supposed to be the meat and potatoes of any car, and the Cedia performs superbly here. In a straight-line the car can do 0-100 around 10-11 seconds but the fun part lies beyond 150kmph where the speed continues to build - all tests on the National Expressway 1 in Gujarat! The highest we touched was 182kmph (the GPS showed 177kmph), Namrata took a video of it which we can’t find right now. :( More than the sheer speed (which is par-for-the-course for the segment), the delight lies in the high-speed manners of this machine. There is an utter calmness about the way this car goes about its business, the growl in 3rd and 4th gears at high-speed is intoxicating and must be heard to be believed! Book that test drive date now just to hear that growl!
When it comes to daily driving performance - away from the speed-runs on the highways - we had enough opportunities to experience the feel of this car in the smallest of lanes and the dullest of traffic jams. In the city, the Cedia is tailormade for the traffic and the sudden bursts of speed, the biggest factor here being its torque. Torque which doesn’t just figure as a number but is available across the rev range in any gear. Stomp the accelerator in any gear and the Cedia is ready for action, most of the 175nm of torque is available right from 2000rpm onwards and it drives almost like a diesel! Overtaking in the city is a breeze and I found myself shooting out 2-3 cars at a stretch in the race to the Taj Mahal in Agra, on the highway it means you rarely have to downshift from 5th gear to overtake. Overall though, my words will be nothing but words till you drive this car, so go ahead n try it out!
Handling and braking: Firstly, at high speeds the car is a dream. The chassis screams for the 160bhp MiVEC engine from the RalliArt version in the US - this is obvious cuz taking curves at more than a ton and a half are a piece of cake in this car. Most fast cars (Verna CRDis, Magnums, Civics etc) kept pace with us on the straight but at the curves it was a delight to just chuck the Cedia into a corner and let its famed rally pedigree take over. There is no drama in this car, whether it is a 140kmph curve or a 100-0 braking manoeuvre at night to avoid ending up in a truck bum on MP’s “highways”, the tyres squealed all of once but the car was never unsettled. This is really the heart of this car, the power might not be the highest among similar cars but show this car some curves and boy can it move! For those who think I am praising this emptily - try it and dinner’s on me if you aren’t left with a big grin on your face at the end.
The maneouverability of this car is one of the most pleasant surprises it’ll throw at you during your time with it. The turning radius of 4.9m equals many hatchbacks and the car shrinks in size in the city. Visibility is good all around (though we were handicapped by the many many stickers on the windows and rear-screen!), and you can easily find your way around the smallest of gallis. What I’d recommend though is a parking camera as the length of the car is not a joke for first-time handlers and a parking camera/sensor can really help.
Steering and low-speeds: I love this Momo steering wheel. If I could, I would steal it and install it in my car in a jiffy. The wheel is chunky at all the right places with muscles bulging out where your hand needs the most grip. It is not really small and tiny but it is thick and perfectly weighted. The turning radius has been a cool surprise for all the security guards and parking lot attendants who try to tell us “saab itni badi gaadi fit nahin hogi”, we took the Cedia into the Old city of Jodhpur, the gallis of ancient Gwalior and real cramped lanes of Ahmedabad’s old town, and returned without a single scratch on the body. Considering we had deadlines to meet every single day, we were not exactly tip-toeing our way across town. The wheel and the steering system will make you feel like a pro after a few hours in the car itself!
Interiors: The aluminium pedals are nice but do not really add anything to the experience - if nothing else, they are good show-off material to your buddies. :D The SatNav system is great for music but a pain to navigate around due to the really slow menu system - Mitsu please look for a firmware update for this one! When fired up though, the SatNav works like a charm at all times. Without Sattu the Satnav we wouldn’t have been able to find our way onto the highways in any city - everyone gives contradicting directions. Obviously it has its caveats but the sheer utility value is unmatched! The new seats are great to look at and uber-comfortable. I was contemplating a neck-rest but never needed one at any point. Namrata loved the leg-room in the front but wanted a few more cubbyholes - for a touring machine, we could always do with more places to place stuff! I wanted a more detailed information display, something with a fuel efficiency meter as well! The Climate Control system worked as advertised and kept the temps constants all through the heat, rain and cold nights, no issue whatsoever.
After these 10 days, this is what we think:
What we loved:
1. Looks, looks, looks. The car gathers attention like crazy - not just due to the stickers but even our support car had people asking questions. Maybe it is the rarity of this car on the roads but mostly it is the simple classic sports-car styling.
2. The simplicity of everything. The dashboard, the styling, the instrument cluster…everything. This car does not intimidate you with barrage of buttons or meters, the dash is ridiculously neat and uncluttered and everything falls into place - from the power windows to the gearshift to the perfectly placed A/C controls. Everything.
3. The performance, braking and handling and the high-speed manners. No drama anywhere.
4. The way the car inspires confidence on the speedways and belies its size in the gallis. The ground clearance and the turning radius make it a car meant for India.
5. The gearshift. The feel of the stitched-leather and the shift action are a dream at high speeds.
6. The fact that we got to own it for 10 days. No questions asked, no supervision, nothing. We need more contests like this!
What we would have loved:
1. A maplight in the front, really need this one. In-cabin illumination at night is quite low and a light in the front will drastically improve this.
2. A multi-information display for fuel efficiency etc. Just a thought.
3. I know most sedans do not have them, but flip-forward rear seats perhaps? For this trip we did not use a single rear seat and most of the luggage was placed precariously on the backseats. Perhaps even space UNDER the rear seat could do!
4. More cubbyholes for the roadtrippers!
5. Keeping this car. I love my gaddi but the added features in this are making me cheat on it!
Finally, this trip made us learn a few things:
- Roadtrips in India are possible and can be tons of fun too. Not tiring, not irritating but fun, fun and fun. The roads are great in more than 80% of the 6 states that we visited and doing 400-450kms in a day with sight-seeing is easily possible in all of the states.
- Across India, the people are very helpful and go out of their way to get you to the right place. Sometimes even if they do not know the way!
- India badly needs more car-tripping clubs. With the roads in place now and cars like the Cedia around, we need to build communities to sustain this. The way we see it, this has been by far the most memorable experience and definitely one of a lifetime. Heck, we are ready to bet it is more exciting than a Eurotrip or a typical south-east Asia tour.
- Driving is for everyone. We are not specialists or even veterans, between the both of us we were the most inexperienced team of the lot…the fact that we’ve made it thus far is (apart from God’s grace!) testament to the fact that Indian roads and conditions are there for you to conquer if you just get yourself to get going.
So, seriously, strap on those seatbelts ladies and gentlemen and get road-tripping in India. ‘Cuz no matter if you get lost or get stuck in traffic, you will always discover new things and find yourself. Of course, a stupendous car like the Cedia is an icing on the very, very, delightful cake.
PS: No I’m not cheating on my Blackhawk. I promise to take her around India more often now!
PPS: My other partner for this trip (Namrata! ) was not too bad either. Without her I would be typing this sitting in Nagaland and not Nashik. She’s given direction, stayed focused, and kept me going all through. Take a bow, my navigator and kick-butt partner!
PPPS: There was a white guardian angel occupied by two wild asses following us all through. Also known as our media crew, they rocked our world! Thank you Raghu, Sunil and Subash (the driver), you kept it real.