It all started with a picture of two convertibles and a lake in the mountains. “Where is this place?” my friend asked, after seeing the shot in the magazine. And then, since it wasn’t too far (around 120km from Mumbai), he went and saw the place before the week was out.
But that wasn’t it. He wanted to show me a few areas he’d discovered. “Bring a car with a generous amount of ground clearance,” he said, “one that can scamper up some unpaved paths. You won’t be disappointed.”
He wasn’t too happy when he set his eyes on the Brezza however. “It’s only front-wheel drive,” he said dismayed, “and it has a 1.3-litre diesel. We’re going to get stuck.”
The journey didn’t start too well. The loose parcel tray needed to be wedged with some newspaper (a temporary solution), the stiff suspension thumped and thudded through some of Mumbai’s sharp-edged potholes and then, because of the rain, the side windows kept fogging up. “So, this is the car that had an eight-month waiting period.” I detected sarcasm.
But then, as the patches of suburban traffic faded and the roads opened up, the Brezza eased into its comfort zone. Build up some speed and poor roads are no longer an issue. In fact, keep your foot down and you can flatten all but the worst patches of road. “I take my words back,” he admitted, “it’s just steamrolling the road.”
Before we knew it, we were up on to the elevated freeway that forms the spine of Mumbai, the Brezza displaying its neat and tidy handling. And though I had to wring out the motor once we got to some faster sections on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the SUV proved to be good company there too.
The acid test, however, came in the shape of some partially leveled but unpaved sections. While clambering over the softer sections wasn’t too difficult and the Brezza even managed to get through a good amount of slush without bother, it was the climb up the steep path that proved to be a bit more difficult. With a lot more weight now resting on the unpowered rear wheels, the front wheels would spin if I mashed down the throttle. And the Brezza would stall if I didn’t give it enough juice – because of the considerable turbo lag. But soon enough, I found a happy middle ground and learnt to modulate or blip the throttle gently, to get the best of both worlds. And then the Brezza climbed pretty smartly.
My friend may not be willing to sell his Creta yet, but he has a lot more respect for the Brezza now. And so do I.