Saturday, December 31, 2016

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Ford launched and displayed their latest models of the Fiesta sedan, the Focus and Edge hatchbacks in the LA auto show recently.

With refreshing looks and colours, these cars are evolutions of their previous generations and it is expected that the Fiesta sedan would make its foray into India at some time.

With reasonable pricing and no nonsense driving DNA ford will continue to impress drivers and make their mainstay products more affordable for general city driving use


Thursday, December 22, 2016

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IMG_4002
Lincoln automobiles unveiled its navigator concept SUV for 2016 LA autoshow. This is a supersized SUV with top opening doors, retractable steps and extremely comfortable seating. Expected to be upwards of about $65000 (33 lakhs INR, USA price) it boasts of following features
  • - Six seater space with 30 way adjustable seats
  • - Wifi hotspot with Revel audio system
  • - 3.5 litre twin turbocharged V-6 with 400 bhp engine
  • - Pre collision braking system with pedestrian recognition
  • - Parking assitance system
IMG_4007IMG_4006IMG_4005IMG_4004IMG_4003IMG_4008

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Monday, October 24, 2016

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All of us know the fact that in the Ramayana, Rama along with his monkey friends were able to set foot in lanka on a bridge built by the monkey kings. This journey was done from dhanushkodi from where Sri Lanka is just twenty kilometres away. Have you ever wondered how a bridge built using stones can remain afloat without being submerged in the water? This bridge is also called the Rama Setu bridge which is clearly visible on the Google Maps as seen below.

image


Well the answer lies in a small temple there in the form of porous floating stones which formed the basis of such a bridge construction and is there for us to see, touch and feel for ourselves. Whether you want to believe this or not is another question altogether but it doesn't harm to check it out and understand isn't it?

There are also various online forums where this topic is debated. You can find one such forum here.
Quora has some questions and answers on this phenomenon of floating stones. You can check out the information here.


Meanwhile I will leave you with a video of the floating stone at the temple which you can see if you go there. If you were at dhanushkodi and saw these stones then share your opinion on this blog on what you feel about them!


Monday, August 22, 2016

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There is no one who suits a villian role in a movie as much as that of a hero than our very own Ajith (Thala). There are many movies made in Malaysia these days, and it becomes an instant magnet for me since it brings me back my old memories of staying there a decade ago. The latest entrant into that list is Kabali. Absolutely awesome choreography and choice of final fight scene locations. Bang next to the Petronas with a zoom out on the menara Telekom.

Flashback to an older movie Billa which was shot in KL and other locations around which I thoroughly enjoyed due to the sheer style quotient of Ajith. Sometimes he even beats Rajini in style and attitude including dressing. Billa 2 was the sequel and when you hear and understand the song Unakkulley Mirugam, you also feel the power packed punch in terms of lyrics delivered by Na.Muthukumar in this song.

I felt the need to translate this song for all you folks who do not understand tamil, and the next time I suggest you put on the headphones and listen to this when you are feeling low and life gives you lemons from all sides, and I bet it will lift your spirits to feel great and make you the achiever you always dreamt to be. Of course not all ways suggested by the song are right ways. But remember we are talking about life giving you lemons situation. So the lemonade thus made suits this situation alone :-)


Unakkulae Mirugam, Thoongivida Ninaikum..
The animal within you, will think of sleeping

Ezhunthu Athu Nadanthaal, Erimalaigal Vedikkum..
But if it is woken up and starts walking, volcanoes will erupt

Kanavugalai Unarvaai Kaetu Athu Thudikkum..
It will ask you your dreams as its food, and will not rest until you give it those

Unnai Athu Vizhungi, Unthan Kaiyil Kodukkum
It will swallow you, and put yourself in your hands

Erikaamal Thaenadai Kidaikaathu
Without burning the bee hives, you will not get the honeycomb

Uthaikaamal Panthu Athu Ezhumabaathu
Without kicking the ball, it will not rise

Vali Athuthaan Uyirpiyaikum
Pain is the one that gets you a life

Ithuvarai Iyarkaiyin Vithi Ithuthan
Till now this is the law of nature

Naragam Athil Neeyum Vaazhnthal
In hell if you live

Mirugam Ena Maara Vendum
An animal you too will turn into

Bali Koduthu Bayamuduthu
Give a sacrifice and scare

Veta Veta Thalai Nimirthu
Hold your head up no matter how much it is severed

Ulagamathu Urundai Illai
The world is not round

Nizhal Ullagil Vadivam Illai
In a world of shadows, there is no shape

Ilakanathai Nee Udaithu Thati Thati Adai Nimirthu..
Break the identity (symmetry or form) and straighten it by sculpting it

Ingu Nanban Yaarum Illayae
There is no one called ‘Friend’ here

Èthirkum Pagaivan Yaarum Illayae
There is no one called ‘Enemy’ here

Ini Neethan Unaku Nanbane
You are your your friend

Èndrum Neethan Unaku Pagaivane
You are your own enemy always

Vali Athu Thaan Uyirpiyaikum Ithuvarai Iyarkaiyin Vithi Ithuthan
Pain is the one that gets you a life, Till now this is the law of nature

Muthal Adiyil Nadunga Vendum
The first blow must cause a shiver

Maru Adiyil Adanga Vendum
The next one must silence

Meendu Vanthaal Meendum Adi Marubadi Marana Adi
And if it comes back, hit again with the next one being a death blow

Adikadi Nee Iraka Vendum
You must die often

Marubadiyum Piraka Vendum
And be born again

Urakathilum Vizhithiru Nee Iruvizhi Thiranthabadi..
Even in sleep, you must sleep with both eyes open

Ini Neethan Unaku Thølaiyae
Now you are your own torture

Èndrum Neethan Unaku Èllayae
Always you are your own boundary

Nee Thøtaal Kizhikum Mullayae
The thorn that tears you on touching it

Valigal Irunthum Valikavillayae
Its painless even when you are in pain

Vali Athu Thaan Uyirpiyaikum Ithuvarai Iyarkaiyin Vithi Ithuthan
Pain is the one that gets you a life, Till now this is the law of nature


Na.Muthukumar is a genius lyricist and this song alone proves that point. He has got the flair of Vairamuthu who is the star of tamil lyrics and speech. It is sad that Na.Muthukumar is no more. But I will always remember him for this song.


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Saturday, August 13, 2016

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This was a long pending post from my side and I finally found some time to write on this topic. I had a chance to plan a trip to Dhanushkodi and got the opportunity to stay at Astoria Hotel in Madurai for a day. This is a business hotel and I needed a stay only for a day so I chose the hotel.

A few notable things about this hotel are the following

  • Its walkable from the railway station as long as you don’t have too much luggage
  • Its preferred to take an auto from the station if you have kids
  • It is situated somewhat nearby to the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai which is easily reachable by auto within 10 minutes



The front facade of the hotel is one vertical block which mostly present the corridor end windows and the conference room windows on the top floor. There is no access to the terrace as such for visitors.

The entry lounge is good with ample light and seating. This hotel offers 24 hours checkin and checkout with prebooking via multiple travel portals or directly via calling the hotel. I paid nearly about Rs.5000/- per day which is on the steeper side and includes breakfast along with the room. The rooms themselves were well appointed, but were kind of small. Since its a business hotel, the type of travellers mostly expected are the ones who stay in the hotel for about a day and move on to other places near madurai for their business needs.

To this extent the rooms offer the comfort necessary from the relentless heat of Madurai. Thankfully I landed there at a time when Madurai received some rainfall the previous day so the city had cooled down a bit from temperatures of over 38 deg C.


The rooms have thick and large curtains shielding all the harsh light coming in, have a study table with a suitable chair, and a small coffee table with a lounge chair. The beds themselves are a bit soft and springy, the types which you can sink into, though my personal preferences would tend towards slightly harder beds which are not known to aggevate back problems.



The television set is mounted on the wall and the wall also has shelves that hold the glasses and coffee maker. The bathroom is well appointed though the shower is not movable enough making it spray all the water all over the room. It could have been designed better though it does the job for a business traveller. The bath has dispensable soap machines which is the trend nowadays and in my opinion, I prefer this over hundreds of small soap cakes being produced that go a waste on daily basis.

These days hotels have reached a situation wherein you can also say whether or not you want the towels washed or not in order to save water and effort and I highly value this mode of working as it conserves resources.

The cafeteria was good and well appointed in terms of furniture. The breakfast was expensive on the second day, but on the first day it was complementary. I did use the room service once or twice and found it to be good. The people attending to you at the hotel are quick and respond pretty soon to your requests which is what a traveller looks for.

The food itself was good with lots of variety ranging from indian, western, veg and non veg options and was tasty too.



The Astoria Hotel has a view to die for and you can see the Madurai Meenakshi temple very well during the clear nights in the city. The central location, accessibility to Railway station and reasonably close from the airport (~ 10-12km) and a decent variety of rooms, food make this place a business friendly hotel.

If I go again to Madurai, I will stay in Astoria and would recommend this hotel to others too.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

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After a lot of lethargy a few failed visits and loads of procrastination, I finally made up my mind to get to Trident Renault at Hosur Road, near Silk Board for the test drive of the Duster AMT RXZ 110bhp version (4x2).



(The AMT Easy-R gearbox on Duster, courtesy Renault)

I did the good thing of calling the showroom, ensuring the car was available over this weekend and based on the promises went there. After checking out the RXS version of the duster for a while, I finally managed to get the Duster AMT for the test drive as promised. Without much fuss I got into the vehicle which was purring around with the engine running. As I do for all test drives irrespective of how experienced I am, I swithced the stereo off (though the sales guys keep shouting hoarse about how good the sound system is). Kept the AC to my liking not blowing too much on my face. I have this habit of diverting AC vents away from me so that I feel cool in the entire cabin not necessarily on my face.





Before I continue further, a few negatives.
<start cribbing>
> I did not much appreciate the cruise control buttons on steering and audio and phone buttons somewhere behind the steering. BAD
> The window buttons are all below hand brake or nearby. BAD
> The dashboard is so good in sports version but in the highest variant it looks crap. BAD
> The music and nav system could have been much better (like the apple car play stereo in s-Cross or Baleno)
> The lower variants have only one airbag for 13 lacs on the road. VERY BAD
<End of cribbing>

Steering

The first thing I found so good about this car is its steering. Without rake adjustment I was wondering if I’d be able to find a good seating position at all, but that was not an issue also especially considering this was an automatic. This is the first AMT for those who do not know mated to hill hold, and a six speed, with EBD, ABS in its category.


Boot


Everyone knows the amount of boot space in the duster. And enough said. Nothing even comes close to this in its category. For a five seater proper suv that is.

Road presence

You see a duster, you don’t mess with it. Period.

Suspension


I was really pleased to see the way the car handled the road. Ahem the SUV :-)
The suspension just soaks up the bumps, and the passengers hardly feel that. Amazing. Just Amazing. And due to its ground clearance of 210mm (higher than how much we can screw up our roads into potholes), you can be rest assured the car is not going to scrape anywhere. And with nearly 35 degree rear angle and 30 degrees front angle, nothing is difficult with this car. The steering only adds to the joy. Its so easy to handle the vehicle and the size is never felt with such a smooth steering.

Space


This car has loads of space for 5 passengers and all their family items in the boot. Its a proper five seater SUV. And the three people at the back can sit very comfortably without any issue. The middle passenger having a fixed headrest is a nice touch.

Interiors





Frankly I did not like Duster’s interiors so much. It all looks like a lot of after thought rather than any planned outcome. The only exception was the sports version which had orange coloured strips and AC Vent borders which lent an exceptional look along with the seat stitching. I am really not sure why Renault is not including this along with all other versions. This is exactly what is needed to make it look much better on the inside.

The ride & AMT Gearbox


Coming to the AMT gearbox which is why I took this test drive in the first place there are a few things that I normally check with these gear boxes. So let’s go one by one
The upshift in drive mode
Put it to drive mode, and the car starts moving forward. You need to keep in mind that this will happen so that it does not take you by surprise at any time. The car drives smoothly for a while in first gear. Upon revving further rather linearly, the car quickly switches to second gear and then third. Through 1-2-3, there is no noticeable lag whatsoever. If the same thing was done with the accelerator floored, then the car holds on to 1 for a while more before switching to 2-3. If I were to put it more clearly for you, it gets you to the point of irritation and getting puzzled why its not shifting but before you can blink your eye, its shifted. This behaviour is only if you really press the pedal quite hard. If you drive normally even a bit spiritedly its no issue at all frankly.

Downshift upon braking
The downshift is in line with what you would expect and it comes down to 2nd gear quite soon upon slowing down. However just as you would expect, it holds on to the second gear for as long as it can before going to 1, something that we all do in manual. So brownie points there for Renault.
Manual mode upshifts
Switch the car to M mode, and you need to pull down for + and push up for -.
You need to switch to second gear as soon as you can for it to settle down, else the engine seems worked up on first gear if you are there in first for a while more. And it does not move either. So second gear onwards its ok to upshift as and where you would like to go.

Manual mode downshifts for overtake manouvres
As you would like to do sometimes, you can ask the car to go down a gear to quickly overtake another vehicle while on manual mode. I got limited opportunity to test this, but I would like to say that like other automatics, this maybe a hassle and not recommended. The car can get confused on how to behave suddenly in the lower gear and could give you loads of acceleration without much physical movement. Typical of all AMTs so far.

Sports mode
There is no sports mode in this car. But in any gear, the acceleration and power was always felt as per need. With 110 hp on tap, you are not going to feel this car is a laggard ever. So no issues there.

Conclusions and comparisons
At this stage I can compare this AMT with Celerio and Scorpio Automatic and I can say Renault really have implemented the AMT well. Almost comparable to Celerio and slightly mroe better itself. Of these three the Scorpio automatic is the worst as it has no clue which gear it is shifting to in any speed. One pedal less, same power as manual 110hp. No dearth of push in city traffic. Car like to drive. One leg resting. You cannot ask for more here.
I really wish Renault comes up with AMT in sports version, and RXL version and includes that freaking second airbag in both these models. Removal of an airbag is not a way to sell between versions and this is really not good. This is where I really like the XUV automatic which is now even available on W6 Trim.

Braking

Being an owner of a sunny, I have always felt the braking in sunny was not upto the mark. It leaves you wondering if the car will stop and if yes will the ABS work as expected. Thankfully in duster that’s not the case, the brakes are present and they work well as expected with lots of feedback.

Mileage

If this were a CVT it should easily return as much or more than manual. However this is AMT, so the mileage should be nearby manual figures at least. The test drive vehicle was showing an average of 9.5kmpl and even if you excuse the fact that no one would have ever reached 4th gear during the test drive, and bump these figures up a bit, expectation is that it would give around 12kmpl, nothing more. Absolutely nothing more. In fact I’d be surprised if it even returns so much to be honest.

Price



In Bangalore its starts from 11.53 lakhs on the road upto 17.29 lakhs on the road for the highest end version (AWD). Frankly I feel its overpriced for what it has to offer. But if you have the money, then this is the perfect car-like SUV. Period. No gimmicks here. For me for the AMT version which comes only in 110 hp avatar, its 16.4 lakhs on the road which is too much for a 1.5 litre engine today.

Gimmickery / Gadgetry / Features

> Cruise control with controls on steering, you can switch on cruise control and long press steering to set it to cruise. you can press + to increase cruise to certain level and - to decrease cruise. You can stop the cruise with a button, or restart to previous level in case of braking. All these four buttons are on steering.
> Power window and other such buttons are below handbrake, bad placement
> Audio and phone buttons are on a stalk fixed to steering column, bad design
> No start/stop keyless button
> Navigation system looks too basic in terms of UI design for me (being a UI centric guy)

Final words



The purpose of the test drive was to evaluate duster w.r.t to its AMT gearbox. For this the car does pretty well and will de-stress you out of Bangalore traffic on daily errands. It also should be a capable highway cruiser no doubt even with AMT. The tricky part was always about how car manufacturers implement the AMT system, and Renault looks to have mastered this in a neat way.

The AMT comes at a price which is steep and at this cost, there are lots of other contenders offering much more at the price point nearby to Duster (Creta, XUV, Scorpio, Ecosport, BRV, TUV, etc). The suspension and braking are a class apart and for Bangalore’s horrible roads, the Duster soothes like a balm for headache.

If you have the money to blow, you can easily plonk that cash into the AMT and you will not be too disppointed the way it will handle. For my own case I need to now arrange my funds as I have one contender who seems like a winner on most fronts.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

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The travel industry is at all time peak since few decades now, and hotels are doing everything possible to ensure their customers have a pleasant experience while they stay with them.
I had a grand plan for a Rameswaram trip, covering other places along and off the route. My interest was stoked when I wanted to know and in person experience the historic Pamban bridge. Consdering I had read about Autocar’s Mercedes GLS 4x4 review driven in Dhanushkodi, and the kind of scenicness the place offered, Rameswaram and Dhanushkodi got listed as my top priority for this year’s travel.

This post is not really about what these places have to offer, but consider APJ Abdul Kalam was born in Dhanushkodi, consider that Pamban railway bridge is one of the more difficult bridges to have been built and being maintained, and the fact that Dhanushkodi is now a ghost town, after the cyclone that devastated it five decades ago – all these reasons made me to want to see these places.

Add to the fact that the often discussed reality of the bridge Rama built from Dhanushkodi to Sri Lanka and many different versions of its real existence, this fact alone heightened my interests even further. Add to that the absolute beauty of the merging of Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean creating a calm beach on the one side, and a rough and choppy one on the other side, this was surely something to see and have fun.


A quick look on the internet yielded very few hotels in Rameswaram of which Daiwik was the one that has the highest number of ratings on TripAdvisor. For me a hotel is as good as its website and reviews. A brief look at the website made me feel comfortable to go ahead with booking at Daiwik for a couple of days.

The booking process was ridiculously cumbersome. I had to mail and/or call them to enquire about direct rates, and travel portal rate charts. Each mail of mine to them on initial customer engagement, needed a follow up phone call for them to respond to my mail. The hotel is run by people from Kolkata and you have people who do not understand English very well at the front desk. Its either Tamil or Hindi. Each time you have to give a context of who you are, what is your email id, what dates you have asked for the stay and then you will receive a lousy response for all the efforts you have taken with some not so detailed information about what you needed.

Update: The hotel has clarified on their response times, but I am not going to correct the fact that I had to call them almost after every clarification for them to respond. I strongly believe there were times to my knowledge that the hotel did take over 24 hours to respond. And I feel established hotels should process their mails more frequently than this timeframe.



Couple this with the fact that you have to prepay all amount to block a room and this is kind of a financial trap which you cannot get out of. Anything might force a change in your plans and hotels need to understand that its always their customers who are at receiving end of losing money, and not them. They can always find another customer within no time but having no flexibility even to the tune of 50% is a bit disappointing.

Update: As per the hotel's comments, they have clarified that I will lose 50% if I cancel within 48 hours which is fair. Still I would have preferred something shorter to accomodate travel plans. Anyway this was not the major issue as such.

Anyways after some extra efforts and calls and mails back and forth and a NEFT transfer of the whole amount to them, I finally had a confirmed booking and arrived at their hotel. The hotel itself is very well appointed and decently constructed. After a welcome drink it took like eternity for them to show me my room. This considering the fact that there were only two customers including myself. The staff at the reception is untrained and clueless how to handle customers visiting the hotel. I am not saying this in the ugly sense of the word, but more on the impact and perception it creates in the traveler's minds.

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The room was good and spaciously appointed. However any calls to the room service was basically redirected to the dustbin. It was a repeat telecast of the booking process here. The guy handling room service for over some 200 rooms is the same guy managing the restaurant part. Just imagine the chaos. I waited nearly 20-30 mins each call, and with multiple reminders at 15,10,5 mins each. When you have two impatient kids who are otherwise well behaved, its pretty disappointing to have to teach a room service guy how to handle requests. If you want to compain about this to the reception, it makes no sense as they themselves need to be trained first on many things.

Update: The hotel has clarified that they have only 90 rooms. The Reason I mentioned 200 is an approximation by how many floors and how many rooms they may have roughly had. So I stand corrected to say it is 90 rooms as per their clarification. However the fact remains I had rather unusual wait times on room service calls and the room service charges being higher does not match with the received level of service.

The third part of this hotel was the restaurant. Too many houseflies. I really mean it. You cannot sit and eat at a place which has insects. Really, I have matured a lot over last two decades and there are certain things I really DO NOT like, and this is one of them. I cannot eat in a place with such disturbances. That said, an order took eternity with both me and the waiter being clueless on what is being prepared and when it would be served. Given he was the same guy handling room service, they were lost in attending to customers. Zero marks for this. Sorry you have to answer something to pass an exam right?

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In all frankness, I like the place and all that, but the service levels were really pathetic owing to the understaffing of the place. How much more lucky can you get? Yes you can. The days that we stayed there, unfortunately the aircon in the entire 2nd floor had a glitch and they had to switch off the aircon all over the floor. You can probably bear this in a cold country like UK, but imagine doing this in Rameswaram where the average temperature was over 40 deg C ! And again no one explains to me why the aircon does not work. On top of that heavy drilling work. Upon my persistence on this matter, they agreed something was wrong on 2nd Floor and gave me another smaller room in 1st floor. At least I had aircon, and did not have to go through the noisy shit in the other floor.

Update: The hotel have clarified that the room given to me was another deluxe room like the previous one, however I felt it was smaller than the previous one. And no one had explicitly told me that the room given was of similar style. And, until I asked regarding the AC not working well, no one spoke to me on getting shifted out to another room. My only point is that if there is something wrong on the floor, its the hotel who must be proactive to inform guests on this. And not wait until the guests have to ask. Further, it is not that I said things cannot go wrong (such as the AC), which the hotel misunderstood. Its about how the situation is handled post that.

Another small but pesky thing. In one of the rooms opposite to mine, someone tried to open the door with either a wrong card or left the door open for too long or something like that. Apparently the lock technology decided that it was time to beep. At 10PM. So loudly that I could not sleep. I called room service who would respond by 11PM in all my knowledge and they finally plugged the matter. We stay in hotels not to be disturbed by daily city life. And these kinds of issues irk customers a lot. Especially after a long and hard day full of exercise and fun, we have to hit the bed in peace.

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Finally the checkout process. You expect the hotel gives you a feedback form if they really mean improvement. And I am a customer who diligently fills it up if given to me. I really mean to give feedback in all respects and expect the hotel to address them depending on priority. After all I have paid a lot to stay there and my opinion should matter to them. But Daiwik did not even bother to offer me a feedback form. And I am not surprised. If they were really meant to take feedback, then they would have done it even without the form. Simple questions like “How was the food”, “did you enjoy your stay” – would do. You can get some really valuable answers.

But no they did not bother. Absoulutely did not even try. And that’s it. I have made my call. I will think twice to stay with them again.

Update: The hotel claims that feedback forms are available. First, I did not find them or ask for them. But while running a hotel, it is the duty of the hotel to understand their guests. Not the guests to understand the hotel. So I stand my ground here. And I wished the hotel gave me their feedback form. It is upto the guest whether they want to fill it up or not. But not being offered feedback form only creates further perceptions which cannot be avoided. Again, this is not about bad-mouthing the place. It is about how the hotel handles guests and their feedback.

IMG_1707

There are other better hotels coming up there and its only a matter of time. Including the famed Hyatt right next to Daiwik. It’s a pity when the hotel is good, but people don’t care. Since Daiwik runs their hotels both in Shirdi and Rameswaram both places being piligrimage centers mainly, perhaps they have an understanding that other customers may not turn up there. There are interesting places such as Pamban, and Dhanushkodi and Daiwik management must understand for the sake of tourists from other parts of the world coming there, that they must focus on what matters most – customer engagement. Word of mouth is a powerful weapon and if it is fired wrongly it can damage reputations. I am not meaning to say my blog post does, but there could be others who start talking crap and that would make a difference.

Again the hotel itself is very good. The whole place is understaffed terrbily. To the point that you dont get any attention to matters that you want solved urgently for yourself. So when you go to Rameswaram keep this in mind. Whether or not you book Daiwik is your call. But for me if there are better hotels available by the time I go again, Daiwik will not be a choice on my list.

/

The Honda BRV reviews are all over the place by now. Many channels like the CarDekho, AutoPortal, CarWale, AutoCar also went to Japan to check out the BRV first hand when it was launched. As a potential buyer more than a reviewer I had to wait my turn until the car reached the showrooms. And it did sooner than later. Took my kid along after having a chat whether the BRV was indeed available for a test drive. It was only the manual petrol though which I had to make do with, but atleast something was available.
Sure enough as I entered the showroom, the BRV was parked under decorative arches since it was the newest entrant into the Honda family in India. After having bitter memories about the Mobilio last time where I even said why I may not end up buying it, I did not have much of expectation on the BRV. After having seen many reviews which went on screaming the fact that it resembled the mobilio my spirits were further dampened. When you go with zero expectation nothing can potentially disappoint you. In fact its more likely the other way around where something can actually impress you.
Coming to my need, with about a budget of under or equal to 15 L, I had specific needs if I were to buy a new vehicle this time. My top priorities were not including the price and mileage for once. I definitely needed over 100Bhp of power, minimum of 200mm of ground clearance, 6-7 seater and a reliable and trustworthy company that can address problems in my car if any cropped up.
IMG_2105

Among all contenders were the usual suspects ranging from the Brezza, all the way until the XUV (including the EcoSport, TUV300, Scorpio, Creta & Duster and Terrano among others). I did have a consideration for the Innova and the versatile Lodgy which I will come to perhaps in a later post but for now lets stick to what was discussed earlier.
I had three vehicles from the Mahindra stable to consider, one from everyone else.
The Duster exit the race as its interiors were below par for the price. It is no doubt the best for tough roads but that’s about it. It’s not going to lighten your mood when you are inside it.
And for perking up the same thing, the Terrano does no better for more money. The Creta is the best seller among all of this and without a single doubt the most luxurious feeling car of the lot while you are inside it. But paying over 16L for just features and no real other meat does not cut ice with me, so after a rather long while the Creta was out of the list. It was hard to let it go, but I had no other option.
IMG_2106
Coming back to the topic, the BRV does not feel like the Mobilio. In all honesty Honda have done much better for this vehicle and they have put their heart and soul into making this vehicle. The front facia with the rather bold chrome strip shows its presence, and the headlamps have a charm of their own when you see the car in flesh.
IMG_2110
The tail lamps though seem like its older sibling, have been beautifully though about and are chunky enough for the look and feel part. The dash is not bland anymore and though it does not offer everything everyone else offers, it does not have any bits and pieces of gadgetry peeping out of the dash unnecessarily.
IMG_2118
Its uniform, has the City and Jazz look and feel and Honda have learnt it the hard way that the customers cannot be sold crap like the older Mobilio. I did take a test drive of the BRV and I must say that Honda undoubtedly have one fo the best steering wheels in the market.

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If you want to know what is Butter Smooth, drive any other car and drive a Honda. You will understand it yourself. The steering just slices through the road in such precision that I was left astounded how well rounded the product is.

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I was a bit disappointed with the rather idiotic stereo system in place. But that is something one can replace easily so it should not be an issue as such. That said, Honda has boldly made the dash fully black and it lends a certain business aura to the car.
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Another point to mention is the seats. This car comes with two captain seats, which are well rounded and cushion you with ample thigh and back support, a middle bench that is 40-60 splittable, and slidable as well and a rear bench which is much much more spacious than the older mobilio. If you really want to know, I did not even venture out for a test drive of the Mobilio earlier just due to this one fact that an adult could not even get himself to get into the rear bench.
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We all know and understand that there are challenges to these kinds of seats since it sits above the wheel arches, and I was quite happy that in the BRV the seats are more accessible compared to older siblings. However that said, I can certify that me being 5’11”, I can comfortably sit in the rear bench alongside another adult without much issue. But that’s about it. You could seat three kids or two adults at best. The rear airconditioning must keep these people in good comfort hopefully.
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The seats themselves are full leather with high quality professional stitching which speaks volumes about the effort Honda has taken to make this a well rounded product. I must point out that the middle passenger in the middle row is likely to get inconvenienced a bit due to somewhat of a raised bottom portion of the seat and perhaps I feel Honda could have worked on this aspect a bit more.
Switch the car on and you can hardly believe that it is on. With or without AC. No I mean it really. Step on the pedal and with AC on the car is slow but steady to react. After all its got a 100 horses and it must show up somewhere and somehow. Step on the gas a bit more and it takes that tiny moment for the car to react and lunge forward somewhat unpredictably a bit, but nothing major to worry about.
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The sweet spots of this car lie in the way the soft clutch has been designed and the rather slick gear shift with a six speed gearbox and that buttery smooth steering only means you have an awesome combination to enjoy the car with.
The one anohter aspect of this is the torque. You need to really drive the car slowly to believe it. I mean really slowly. Like 10kmph at 5th gear and bring it up to a full 100kph in the same gear.
Absolute beatuy of an engine. You know sometimes its not exactly about brute force power to fly about exactly but things like no gear shifts needed at super low speeds that make this vehicle an enjoyable one.
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Then there is thing about ground clearance. After all Honda calls it an SUV while in true spirit its a much much better designed Mobilio in my opinion. Anyways one of the traits of an SUV is ground clearance and the BRV has 210mm of it, beating all other rivals almost. What this translates to is something I have not exactly been able to measure with the short test drive that I took up. However I did go obliquely across two deep potholes with a rather uneven mound in between and the car did not scrape anywhere below. However if you live in Bangalore like I do, you would very well know there are some roads with manhole lids the size of road humps and the road itself is much below them. Another case in point is severe water logging during heavy rains in underpasses. I am really not sure how the BRV will perform in these two scenarios. A third simpler scenario is to keep a water bottle on the road and go over it to see if it topples. I could not verify either of these cases and unless I get a real chance to, I cannot really say this would perform like perhaps a Scorpio would. I can confidently say that I have tried these on a scorpio and it has had absolutely no issues in handling them.
Being pioneers in seat configurability the BRV offers varieties of ways to generate space both in the boot as well as in the middle rows using the 40-60 split modes. Whichever situation, space should never be a problem with BRV as this is what the car is all about for its money. That said, with all seats upright with passengers, the rear boot space is going to be somewhat optimal if not minimal and it can handle only a defined amount of luggage. Nothing to piss you off though really.
So what about diesel and automatic then? Frankly everyone knows Honda’s automatic CVT transmissions are among the best. Having paddle shifters means handling the car like using a video game console to shift gears with your thumbs. However until now the CVTs were sluggish and was intended for more of mundane driving without the thrill of driver defined gear shifts. With the introduction of the revamped CVT in the newly launched amaze, Honda claims it has addressed some issues with the familar rubber banding effect of its original CVT. At the time of writing this article, the CVT was not available for a test drive and hence I cannot comment on how it feels until I drive one. So I will reserve my comments for later except however to say here that this will be one of the most effortless cruiser both within and outside the city for tired souls after a hard day’s work.
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I have been chafferured around in a diesel Amaze and found it to be quite noisy on the inside. This is very unlike Honda and it clearly shows they did not research with it properly and just went in for a hurried launch party. However in the revised Amaze they claim to have taken care of this issue now. The earlier one felt like the first Hyundai Accent CRDi which had that distinct clatter all the time. One hopes that the diesel BRV will muffle these sounds even more with all the corrective feedback taken. At the time of this writing, the diesel BRV was unavailable as well due to which I could not test drive the same. It is bound to be a pocket friendly car for sure with mileages of over 20kmpl for sure. And a light clutch on the diesel as well means amazing driveability on daily basis.
But would you buy a diesel for close to 16L that has a 1.5 litre engine, or would you rather buy a Scorpio for 15.5L giving a mileage of 15kmpl, for a 2.2 litre engine generating 120bhp, or a XUV 500 for 16L giving a mileage of 11kmpl but with a 2.2 L 140bhp engine?
The choice is all yours frankly as each have its positives and negatives. Ultimately its about value for money and driveability that are the only two factors that makes a person decide what he or she would like.
Only time will tell whether the BRV will sell in huge numbers and be a hit for Honda. For sure this is not a Brezza or an Ecosport or even a Duster to sell 100,000 units in six months. But it sure will have steady sales once people understand how Honda has managed to engineer this car. And its long term reliability, acceptance for its strong virtues will decide whether or not Honda’s long term fortunes will be impacted positively or not. Honda has begun to take customer feedback and work on it which is a good sign and like Toyota the engines are legendary beyond measure which still is helping the company maintain its strong growth phase.
As CarDekho put it, if you a family man with old parents and young kids and you want a fuss free car that has SUV/MUV traits, is comfortable to be in, and keeps your senses calm on long drives, then the BRV is for you.

On a side note I did drive the Scorpio automatic which I will talk about a little later. The more I drive other automatics, the more and more I feel the Honda’s CVT just like the Nissan CVT are vehicles that other manufacturers’ products cannot beat in the long run.
So if you have 15-16L, need a great ground clearance, want to seat more people, want to have fun with a slick shifting manual or an absolutely smooth to cruise CVT, dont mind a lesser engine capacity, and prefer great mileage, reliability, and peace of mind buy the BRV.
This car is not about looks. Its about attention to detail, and character. The BRV won’t disappoint you.

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About Me
Srikanth Eswaran
Bengloor Huduga

Srikanth is a blogger, reader, photographer, butter dosa eater, an urban car racer & an apple fanboy. He loves music, playing table tennis and traveling. Most times he would like to be solitary to introspect on what life has thrown to him and the bigger purpose of life.