On the way out of Mangalore, there was a lot of construction on the roads and traffic was rather heavy as well. We had to navigate through all kinds of city traffic and around numerous diversions. It was tiring and cumbersome; something we were pretty bummed about, considering it was nearly a 420km drive to Kochi. Unfortunately, the shoddy roads didn’t improve much after we exited the city either. Thankfully, the Mini proved a sturdy little car over these broken bits, and though shaken, we weren’t entirely stirred. What also did provide some relief was the fact that no matter what the road conditions, the landscape around was very scenic. We passed lush green hills, groves, idyllic water bodies, gentle rivers and the like. While we did stop at some of the places to take photographs, there were plenty of spots where we wished we could’ve had more time.
It was already dark by the time we got to Goa, and there wasn't a chance to do much then. So, next morning, we took to the streets in the Mini, getting in as much of the local flavour as we could. We were at Betalbatim and took smaller lanes on the inside to move southwards. It was a typical Goan Sunday, with the locals headed to church in their Sunday best. We stopped at Colva beach for a bit of a breather before we got on the NH17 for the way to Mangalore.
The start from Pune had to be very early. We were at Viman Nagar, which is at an extreme end of Pune, and had to get to the NH4 to be on our way to Goa. It meant cutting across the city, which would be a nightmare once the rush hour began. It also meant clearing the toll gate out, which could have you waiting behind trucks lined up for as much as a couple of kilometres.
Cross-country roadtrips aren’t anything out of the ordinary for us at Autocar India. But doing so in a Mini Cooper is something that definitely does not happen very often. With its compact dimensions and peppy driving manners, the Mini has always been a champion of the urban setting. Its abilities as a long-distance vehicle, though, is something that hasn’t been extensively put to the test. And that’s exactly what we decided to do: take this little hatchback across the length and breadth of the country. Sixteen days, nearly 5500km, across 16 cities and seven states.
I have a personal variation of a popular phrase 'Charity begins at home'; I believe - safety begins at home. Prepping a car before you head out is the first step to ensure safety while driving in the city or out on the highway. The car is a machine, and like every other machine, a lot of parts are interdependent for its proper functioning as a whole.
There’s something very soothing about driving at a race track. No distractions. No excuses. It is a place where the pretence, the bravado and the preening drop as you head out of the pit lane and onto the track. Every daunting corner, every cunning apex, every unruly kerb, every sneaky bump announce their intentions plainly. The rest is up to you. You and the machine. As you face up to the challenge of setting a quick lap, you realise, it is a mirror you are staring into. On our recent Tri-Circuit Challenge, the MMRT offered plenty of reasons for introspection.
Driving a car over a long distance really allows you to get to know it in much better detail. Having spent over 3,000km behind the wheel of Audi’s RS7, S6 and TT over the course of the Tri-Circuit Challenge, I think we can safely say we now know these cars rather well. Having said that, I must admit our initial scepticism of the Audis’ ability to tackle Indian road conditions was unfounded.
India has finally discovered the seven-seat MPV. Earlier consigned to the ranks of automotive pariahs, along with estate cars or station wagons, Indian customers today
It isn’t everyday that you come across a driving experience that genuinely takes the game ahead. What’s even more thrilling is when it happens totally by surprise. But that’s exactly what happened when I first drove BMW’s then-new 750i back in 2009. Sure it was a BMW, but raw agility wasn’t what I was expecting from this massive barge of a car. What I was expecting, at best, was good stability and possibly a positive BMW-style turn in. What I got, however, was simply incredible high-speed agility and an ability to change direction at speed that bordered on spooky. The ability of this car to carry speed through corners without drama was simply baffling. The reason – a system very few customers opted for called Integral Active Steering; nothing more than four-wheel steering to you and me.
2017 Maruti Ignis review, test drive
Maruti S-Cross long-term review, final report
2016 BMW 330i GT review, test drive
2016 Hyundai Elantra petrol long-term review first report
Volvo XC90 T8 Excellence review, test drive
Issue: 209 | Autocar India: January 2017
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