India is one of the fastest growing economies and we see a lot of development happening in our cities. Metro train projects, skyscrapers, luxury hotels, technology cities all are on a rise, however, majority of the Indians still reside in small towns and villages.
These are places where roads do not exist, and whatever minimal infrastructure is present, is flooded with cycle rickshaws, hawkers and even cows. This is real India, be it Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal or any other states.
The people living in these parts of the country are one of the biggest audiences for car and bike makers. If you think driving in our city traffic is difficult and the roads are bad, you need to drive here. These are the places where the vehicles undergo real-life testing.
To show how good the i10 is, we drive it from Kolkata to Varanasi covering more than 800kms in a period of two days on the Grand Truck Road, which one of Asia’s oldest road.
We started off from Kolkata at about 10-ish in the morning, heading through the not-so chaotic traffic— lucky enough to skip the peak traffic thanks to the local Hyundai dealer car that guided us out of the city.
Then begun our journey with the highway and the toll road. We have always liked the i10 for its easy city driving, but on the highway also it was cruising happily at 100 km/hr. There are no issues with the vehicle and also it can cruise easily on the highway. Being a tall boy, it feels a bit jittery above 120km/hr and gets affected by wind, but we can give this to the little car as it isn’t meant to do such tasks.
The highway driving us out of West Bengal was crowded and it was difficult to drive in places where people do not follow any rules and regulation. Several bus and truck drivers bullied their way across by changing lanes without any signal or prior notice.
We witnessed a possibility of a couple of accidents, one in which two trucks could have collided with us following the duo. Also, we did see a few tyre bursts on a few multi-axle trucks.
The route isn’t scenic, however the roads are well paved. We passed through the heavy industrial zone of Asansol and Dhanbad. The traffic reduced as we headed approached towards Jharkhand, so did the habitat.
The number of fuel filling stations and food joints were a rare sign in the state of Jharkhand. What we encountered mostly were “Line Hotels”, which are even cheaper and low market than the dhabas, catering the blue-collar audience. So, eating even in a dhaba in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand could be termed as a middle-class man, while one eating in a restaurant can be tagged as “the rich”. Thanks to my previous travel in this state, we found a good food joint a kilometres inside Jharkhand for our lunch.
Then we soldiered on to NH2 passing through Jharkhand. The roads were fairly deserted, however the surface wasn’t well paved. There were a lot of bad patches on the way. Some bridges are raised above the road level, which means your vehicle can be air-borne for a few millimetres if you do not detect them and reduce your speed. Soon, we passed Barhi.
All those who aren’t aware that a place called Jumri Talaiya does exist and is about 23 kilometres from Barhi, which is a small town in Jharkhand. There are two ways to the town, and both turn in from the Grand Trunk Road.
As the sun began its descent, we were heading to night stay in Gaya, as that was the closest place in Jharkhan to have some good accommodation. We went off the highway from Dobhi onto an interstate highway that had a lot of bucket holes. The i10’s high profile tyres did a fair job of soaking the bumps and even avoid the rims from bending. On this trip, our didn’t even have ABS, still the braking was good enough. The brake pedal was a bit soggy but that’s about it. We passed through BodhGaya, which is a pilgrim destination for Buddhists. As our hotel was booked in Gaya, we headed a few more kilometres deeper into the B-road. Those willing to visit BodhGaya, there is airport and better hotels in BodhGaya than Gaya on the interstate highway itself.
Next day, we headed back on the same state highway to get back to the NH2. It was in the morning we realised how bad the roads were and the phase through which the i10 had driven past. Soon, we got back on to the national highway as we encountered a few Harley bikers too heading towards to main road. The i10 drove several kilometres with ease and we reached Varanasi in comfort.
We drove the newly launch iTech variant of the i10 that gets satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, reverse parking camera and red and beige upholstery. The satellite navigation was a useful tool as it guided us throughout the route until we reached Gaya that was off the Grand Truck Road by a good 30km. This came handy as we didn’t have 3G connection throughout, which meant the maps were our only means to relay on.
The map cannot detect the fastest route and we had to struggle by driving through the small roads in Varanasi that were meant for cycles and autos. Bad telephone connectivity kept us away from using the Bluetooth on the phone, but it wasn’t enough and also we generally avoid talking on the phone while driving as this isn’t a good practice.
The i10 is good city car, and it is bad on the highway also. It drives smoothly and without much of an effort you can overtake trucks and other vehicles, probably a downshift could be required.
It is easy to manoeuvre in tight and busy lanes, like we did in Varanasi. Generally long drives in small cars is tiring, but the Hyundai i10 is just effortless in the chaotic traffic of Varanasi, tarmac missing roads to Gaya and the smooth Grand Trunk Road.