It’s that time of the year when the Mercury crosses the 40-degree Celsius mark, and the heat begins to get unforgiving. I personally don’t like the summer, but life must go on and one has to venture outside regardless of the weather. Unfortunately, I had a lot of travel assignments this month, so I couldn’t clock too many kilometres on the City. But the little that I did, it was under the simmering heat.
With the sun beating down on my head, my life revolved around air conditioners – like every one else. The Honda City’s air conditioner kept the heat at bay and protected me from dehydration. The climate control in the car is very effective, and I didn’t have to think twice while setting the temperature to my requirements – rather than having to adjust to what the car can mange. The air conditioner was so effective that I didn’t need to set it below the 25-degree mark. I must also mention about the touch screen of the climate control system, which is very responsive and easy to use. Honda ensured that the capacitive buttons are large enough, so that a single touch is enough. Also the climate control looks very cool and contemporary.
Another practical feature, which is very important in our kind of climate is the rear air conditioner vents. The passengers in the back didn’t have to sweat it out and patiently wait for the entire cabin to cool down or roll down the windows. The rear air conditioner vents aren’t as powerful the ones in front, but they are no doubt effective.
Not many people may realise this, but how a cabin is designed does affect your mood. The City may not have dynamic interiors, but it certainly has an airy feel to it. The black-beige combination also adds a soothing touch, apart from giving it a premium feel. The last thing you want it is rubbing shoulders in a tight cabin when the sun is not showing you any respite.
Honda has made sure that your drive, no matter what the conditions are, is stress free and comfortable. The seats are very supportive, the seat squab is big and there is a lot of knee room for the rear passengers. All this lets you relax in the cabin, keep your temper in check, and take the summers on with a smile. I’m quite confident, then, that my summer this year should be a smooth sailing despite the rising temperatures.
words: Kapil Vashist
The Ford Fiesta, in its current avatar, never really picked up in the Indian market. For various reasons, with the main contention points being stiff competition and a flawed pricing strategy, the Fiesta became an also ran in its segment. Which is a shame, as I’ve discovered that it is perhaps the best driver’s car in its segment – with its only competitor, when it comes to driving appeal, being the VW Vento.
Much has been said in the past about the driving appeal of Ford’s products and their well tuned suspension and steering systems, and the Fiesta is proof that these compliments have been well warranted. With its hydraulic power steering, which provides excellent feedback, and the lovely balance in its suspension setup, this is a car that’s meant to be driven – and driven hard. The hydraulic steering is a joy. It’s one of the only steering systems that has avoided going electric – as a result, this one still lets you know exactly the car is doing and what the texture of the road feels like.
So, even on my daily commute, it’s difficult for me to resist the urge to push the car as much as the conditions allow me to. The Fiesta is one of those rare breed of cars, it simply eggs you on to drive faster all the time. It rewards you by providing a driving experience that makes you relish all the effort that you put in. When we last tested the Fiesta at the BIC racetrack, we found the engine to be a bit disappointing – but that’s certainly not the case on the road. The engine, which not the quietest in the segment, is eager to rev, delivers power in a linear fashion and is a joy to push. The gearshift could be a bit better, but it isn’t bad at all.
But the most impressive thing, at least for me, are the seats – which are simply brilliant. They might not look fancy, but their design is spot on. They have the right amount of cushioning, and the contours of the seats are such that it just adds to the pleasure of driving the Fiesta for extended periods of time – providing excellent support and comfort. Honestly, I’m yet to find such fantastic seats this side of a Volvo – and I’m not exaggerating when I say that.
All is not perfect with the Fiesta however. The controls of the SYNC multimedia system are a bit fiddly, and the four direction buttons mounted high up on the centre console aren’t really that intuitive. It would be better of if the system could be simplified, and a rotary knob be used instead of the buttons.
But this is a minor hassle really. Overall, living with the Fiesta everyday is great fun. So, when it goes for a service next week, I’m going to have to go back to driving my boring, everyday car – and that will feel really dreary now.
words: Jared Solomon
The summer has hit Delhi really hard, and it’s now in full swing. The heat is almost unbearable – but, surprisingly, it leads to lesser traffic in the afternoon, because no one really wants to get out. However, my main mode of transport is still the Yamaha FZ-S Version 2.0. Last month, I was travelling constantly for work, so once again I didn’t clock many miles on the bike. We’ve had the bike for 8 months now and I havne’t faced any problems with the bike at all – everything is still in perfect condition. While I was travelling, the bike was kept out in the sun for around 2 weeks without anyone riding it. But as soon as I got back to Delhi, I started her up and she came back to life in an instant.
The FZ-S still rides very well, and the comfort levels and ride quality are the bike’s best attributes so far. After taking a work colleague for a short trip to the market he was amazed with how comfortable the pillion seat was – and also appreciated the rear monoshock suspension, which he said absorbed most of the adulations in the road. I couldn’t agree more. The entire riding experience of the FZ-S is the best in its class. In fact, it’s even better than most other bikes in the 250cc segment as well – but only in terms of comfort, handling ability and refinement. When it comes to overall performance, we still feel that the bike should have had a bit more power and torque. But, overall, the Yamaha FZ-S offers the best total package for a 150cc bike.
The bike did have its first flat tyre last month, and that was only because a 2-inch long razor sharp metal shard had dug its way through the rubber. We did find out, though, that fixing a flat tyre is fairly easy – but if you want to remove the tyre it does take a little bit of work because the mud guard is bolted onto the swingarm and gets in the way. But you won’t be doing much of that unless it’s absolutely necessary to do so.
I still haven’t taken the bike on a long trip as I had planned. So, let’s hope that I can find some free time, escape the heat of Delhi, head to the mountains and see how the bike performs in those conditions.
words: Divyanshu Boora
The last one month has been good, especially the second half. Acting and living like a king for the first two weeks of a month is more of a phenomenon than a fact. This is the time when I take my car to work, despite knowing it is a bad idea. Then comes the 15th, and then reality starts to sink in. That’s when I start thinking of finding an alternate mode of transport – and that’s precisely why last month was good.
I turned to the Gusto full time around April 14, and the petrol bill has been reduced from `1,500 per week to 250. Well, I travel almost 30 kilometres a day and the Gusto’s fuel tank gets full to the brim in just 280 Rupees. If you sit with your calculator, it won’t take you much time before you realise that it points to a fuel efficiency of over 50 km/l. On paper, the scooter delivers a maximum output of 8bhp and 8.5Nm, but that’s plenty for you enough for you to cover distances in the city, run some errands, and negotiate those speed breakers on your way home.
There is fair amount of traffic on my way to work, and riding the Gusto around it is more like a session of anger management. You just wait patiently for traffic to clear, and when it does, you just twist the throttle and sail through it. The seat is more than just comfortable – and its height adjustable. The throttle response is relatively punchy, and you don’t feel any sluggishness.
The not-so-impressive things are the rear brakes and the rear view mirror (maybe because Mahindra doesn’t want you to look back or stop when you’re riding the Gusto). The rear brake doesn’t bite as much as you’d like, and the rear view mirrors are positioned a little off – which means you have to move your neck around like a joystick in order to see what’s behind.
Despite these two small issues there’s nothing wrong with the Gusto. The small pocket just below the meter still impresses me, and so does the adjustable seat. Plus, the under-seat storage space is good enough to swallow an entire helmet.
So, the Gusto is a nice overall package to be used on a daily basis – and it also lets you do your household chores over the weekend with ease. But considering the weather and the rise in temperature over the past few weeks, I’m a little concerned about using it in the days to come.