Ashish struggles to find a car or SUV in our market that he really wants. Since building one is too expensive, he’ll just have to wait till an OEM reads his column and makes one that really appeals to him.
This was a super month for us. We had 11 cars spread over 10 days for our main tests, and some of them stayed with us for almost the whole month – luckily, those few were among our favourite of the lot. So, we’ve been driving a range of sedans from the outright boring to the brilliant this side of 20 lakhs. Still, there was not one car there that I’d like to own. The problem is – I’ve doodled my perfect car on scraps of paper for years, but have still to find anything close to it in the dealerships – and two car purchase decisions have passed already.
Really, it’s a longing for classic and retro automotive shapes that lies unfulfilled in today’s choices. There are two themes that come to mind. One would be a proper muscle car that would also – as a surprising change – handle well. What I have in mind are icons like the Ford Mustang Fastback with a Cammer Engine of 1965, or the Aston Martin V8 Vantage from 1977. The other design is that of a proper 4x4 SUV – something that the current crop of Scorpio’s and Safari’s don’t fulfill. And building one to spec would be an expensive proposition to say the least.
So, which SUV to settle for then? You see, I’m an avid off-roading fanatic, and none of the niceties of the sedans at our disposal makes me weak in my knees. I want something that can handle rough terrain like a mountain goat, and have a comfy ride as well. It should be easy to live with too, as I intend to use it as an everyday car. And it shouldn’t cost more than 8-10 lakhs. Yes, tough asks I know, but I’m a typical Indian consumer within my demographic after all.
I must make it clear right away, though, that I don’t want anything that even remotely looks like a stretched and/or pulled hatchback – so MUV’s are a strict no-no for me. Not that I have anything against the Innova’s or the Xylo’s – I think they’re decent products – it’s just that they simply don’t cut it for me.
So, then, there’s the typical Safari, Scorpio route to take. But I’d do things rather differently – maybe a Force Gurkha or a Gypsy. But, both of them, although great off-road, have horrid quality, terrible refinement issues, and a complete lack of creature comforts. A Safari, on the other hand, is a modest off-road tool, but handles a bit too softly for my liking. So, it was all boiling down to either the Bolero or Scorpio, and anyone with a sane head would opt for the latter, right?
Well… you don’t have to be drunk or irrational to actually pick the Bolero over the Scorpio. The Scorpio, you see, is too supple. I like the square-ish, manly lines of the Bolero. And, actually, the ride and handling characteristics are quite good too. So, believe it or not, the Bolero Stinger makes me salivate. It has everything going for it – well, almost. It comes with a CRDe engine, so power and torque won’t be an issue for regular driving. The problem is, though, that there’s still no 4WD option for it – and that ruins the party. And the cost is another factor, which, at the smiling end of 10 lakhs, is a little steep for the ‘Bolero’ brand.
An ever growing wait it is then – or perhaps I should start hunting for one of those 3-door Pajeros in good nick. I wonder why our automakers can’t come up with something as purposeful as a Land Rover Defender? A cut-price one of course – at least give it a shot. That would fit my parameters perfectly. For the time being, though, I’m back playing with the lifeless steering of my Honda, or driving one of our Long Term motors.