Each year, Honda Cars India organizes an expedition that takes us through some of the best driving roads and picturesque areas in the country. Having tasted first blood last year, Ishan was once again enthused to find out what the latest edition had to offer.
In my inaugural Drive to Discover last year, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a corporate driving event which emphasized the laidback pleasures of road-tripping that we seem to have forgotten in the blinding mess that media test drives have today become. In the race to produce unique content as soon as possible, most media test drive events fly past like a blur in front of our eyes. Because, before we know it, we’re trapped in a maze of experiencing the car, finding out its positives, its flaws, creating content for a million different mediums, and at the same time, making sure we make the flight back home. Needless to say, while our jobs are very fun, they aren’t as laidback as most people imagine.
But Honda’s Drive to Discover discourages the rush that regular test drives have become. In fact, in none of my driving experience yet, have we been rushed, or made to drive for excessively extended periods, but most important of all, each day we are treated to a combination of beautiful roads, gorgeous vistas and some amazing routes, which when combined together once again made me realise what got me hooked to long road trips in the first place.
Discovering our own Land
Of course, the drive routes of each drive have been amazing, and this 11th edition of the drive was no different. We started off from Bangalore, which, with its amazing weather is always a delight, and headed towards our destination for the day, the coffee plantation town of Coorg. Now, while getting out of Bangalore might be a royal chore, the highway towards Coorg – once we’ve exited town – is a dream stretch. Long, wide roads are punctuated by farmland and gorgeous vistas surround you throughout the way. The highway is also lightly trafficked, which means that maintaining a decent clip is easy work. Of course, the pace is also helped by the first car that I’m driving, the new City e:HEV Hybrid, which, with its ample power and torque makes cruising at three-digit speeds a very easy task. Another aspect of the Hybrid that I’m keen on monitoring on this trip is the real-world fuel efficiency that I can get with my driving style, and I’ll tell you more about it later in the story.
Wildlife Reserves and Driving Roads
On our second day, we were driving from Coorg to Wayanad on what promised to be a fantastic drive, passing on the outskirts of the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve, but before that, me and fellow journalist Kushan Mitra stopped to buy some spices from Coorg. Encountering a rather intrepid young salesman named Sunil Shetty, we were given a crash course on the different grades of spices such as black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and much more, and with these sales skills, you wouldn’t be surprised to know we ended up buying a lot of spice! And all of it high-quality stuff too. But the real fun of the day began after that as we took a rather unusual route on the outskirts of Nagarhole and discovered some simply brilliant driving roads. Tight, twisting, well surfaced and traffic-free, we had two hours of scintillating driving even though we weren’t doing very high speeds, and given the tight corners, I was just happy I was driving the Amaze with its manual gearbox being a pleasure to use with its snappy shifts.
'We were driving from Coorg to Wayanad on what promised to be a fantastic drive, passing on the outskirts of the Nagarhole Tiger Reserve'
Of course, the fun stopped as soon we entered Kerala and encountered an endless string of towns and buses driven in true kamikaze style. If you’re ever driving in Kerala, watch out for the KSRTC government buses – they are painted bright red not just to make them stand out, but also to signify that their drivers are precisely what the colour signifies – a danger.
Commuting: Kerala Style
After a great evening at the amazing Saptha Resorts in Wayanad, the next morning it was time for us to head towards our final destination, the capital city of Kochi. Now, for the uninformed, driving in Kerala is an experience in itself, albeit mostly not a pleasant one. For some reason, most of Kerala has decided to live near the main highways that run through the state, and so if you’re travelling even on National Highways in the state, it almost feels like a never-ending town. In fact, for a non-local like me, it is impossible to tell which town we are in because they end and start so subtly that we can never make out where we are.
'Honda’s Drive to Discover offers the basics of what makes for a memorable road trip – great driving roads, beautiful locations, amazing food and a trip to remember, exploring some relatively unexplored roads and regions'
Thankfully, we were commuting on a Sunday, which meant that after lunch our final stretch from Thrissur to Kochi was predicted to not be too bad as far as traffic was concerned. But, of course, not too bad is a relative term, and driving the last 4 hours with an average speed of around 25km/h can be a challenging prospect, but then again, no one said that Kerala is ever a state that you should drive across in long road trips. However, the driving style change meant that I did get to test the e:HEV’s fuel efficiency in a variety of conditions, and am happy to report that this strong hybrid, with me driving, averaged between 20-22km/l, which is might impressive since it offers such low running costs.
Overall, though, the Honda Drive to Discover once again offered a memorable experience for me. Beautiful driving roads, gorgeous scenery, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, amazing food and great company. What more can one ask for in life?