Fun-to-drive Indian cars can include the slow & sloppy
When one says fun to drive, most enthusiasts start thinking only about drivers’ cars that have powerful engines and suspension + steering setups that make them tight handlers to be thrown into corners. I am not a purist. According to me, one can have fun in any car, even if its not necessarily an enthusiast-oriented machine, or even fast / dynamically rich. Here are some instances where I have had an absolute blast in vehicles that don’t make it to enthusiast lists.
When one says fun to drive, most enthusiasts start thinking only about drivers’ cars that have powerful engines and suspension + steering setups that make them tight handlers to be thrown into corners.
I am not a purist. According to me, one can have fun in any car, even if its not necessarily an enthusiast-oriented machine, or even fast / dynamically rich. Here are some instances where I have had an absolute blast in vehicles that don’t make it to enthusiast lists.
NOTE: The views below are from someone who has driven supercars on a race track (pic from my Yas Marina trip). Just saying!
The “boring” Toyota Corolla is always looked at as a family man’s car or even an old man’s car. It is no corner carver, but it is not a bad handler by any means. It does not have the stonking performance of an Octavia turbo-petrol, but it is not slow either. Recently, I did a round trip from Mumbai to Hyderabad in my Corolla and my wife, my daughter & I – all had a lot of fun. I drove responsibly and never gunned the engine, yet never felt the need to go any faster or attack corners. I enjoy cruising too and take a lot of pleasure in it. All of us loved the scenery that the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana had to offer. Music was playing all the time and the interior space, air-conditioning, comfortable ride and insulation from the outside world kept us all smiling. It’s Covid times, so we carried everything we would need, including food. In short, the car was our home on the road. This was truly a memorable journey and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
By any parameter of “fun to drive”, this old Jeep is a fail. Sometime back, I drove GTO’s Mahindra Classic to Nasik and back. This drive would be no big deal in a modern car. However, the old Jeep is slow, bumpy and has none of the creature comforts that even entry-level hatchbacks provide today. Yet, I had a blast. To start with, the Jeep has no roof, so it was pure open-top all the way which is a pleasure in itself. Then, this vehicle needs to be “driven”. It won’t do anything on its own. The steering has no power assistance and needs correction continuously, the gears are clunky (it’s a tempo’s gearbox IIRC) and need an experienced hand to slot. The driver needs to concentrate all the time to keep the vehicle on the road. This might sound painful for many, but for me, this was an enjoyable experience. Keep the car going at 70-80 km/h, put some rock music on and look / feel cool. Enjoying this old-school style of motoring in a basic, mechanical package which is so connected that you feel everything! This thing grabs the attention of other road users like a supercar. Did I mention that, the missing top means you have the wind in your hair all the time?
Classic car owners will know what I’m talking about. It’s a different kind of “high”. Also, go offroading in one and you’ll have as much fun as redlining a Ferrari on the track. Including a picture of the ’20 Thar as that is also an unconventional kind of driving pleasure.
The Tata Hexa is a damn MPV – say purists who will never associate it with the term “fun to drive”. It’s a big, heavy and relatively slow vehicle with flawed ergonomics. Guess what? I find an alternate kind of “driving pleasure in it”. The practicality, suspension, stability & awesome AT make it fun for me. If you want to travel long distances with your entire family, including a dog and luggage, you will love the Hexa too. It has acres of space on the inside and the ride is among the best I have experienced in a body-on-frame UV. This will keep your passengers smiling as well.
This is the kind of car you enjoy with your family, on drives short & long, while admiring the view of the world outside.
What I am trying to say is, let’s not be purists. We can have fun in any car. In fact, I would go a step further and say it is not even necessary to drive hard for driving pleasure! The ugly Maruti S-Presso is a mass-market econobox. Still, me & GTO had too much fun with the little car in the city. Under 80 – 90 km/h, the peppy engine + gearbox + chuckable nature left us grinning :D. Above that speed, it’s scary, but again, it’s fun in the city. Drive one with an open mind and you won’t scoff at this ugly duckling anymore. Its engine has more than enough power to make it a peppy mover. The driveability is excellent & the light weight makes things easy for the little 1.0 under the hood (the best n/a 1.0 on sale in India IMHO). With its narrow width, small footprint, higher seating position, perfect ergonomics & lively engine, the S-Presso is an ideal city car.
In the same vein, I’ve taken my Contessa to Goa. It was a whole load of fun cruising calmly, exploring places I hadn’t seen before.
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