Wines! These are alcoholic drinks made from grapes. The grape juice is barrelled and the fermentation converts the sugar into alcohol. I have no clue who would have had the time to think of this. No doubt that the man in the olden days was free to experiment with various things and one of them is wine. I got all this jargo from a close friend Aneesh, who is a wine connoisseur.
Any doubts on wine, and I call up the man. This time I got a call from Mahindra for a TSD Rally to the Sula Vineyard. My first thought was to get a navigator who knows the Sula Vineyard area in and out, and who could be better than Aneesh who has been a frequent visitor to the vineyard, so often that he might have got platinum access if they had frequent visitor points.
The next moment I called up Aneesh and we mutually decided to take part in this TSD. Time Speed Distance Rally is won only when you have a great navigation. Now, there was one big problem ahead of us. Despite the fact that Aneesh knew the Nashik area at the back of his hand, he had never participated in a TSD rally. He didn’t know how to read TSD maps. So, we swapped roles and I began to use my engineering brain for the best possible utilisation of tricks.
Our route to Nashik, wasn’t by the regular Mumbai-Nashik highway or better known as NH3, it was from the Gujarat road via NH8. Our vehicle for the trip was the Mahindra Quanto. A diversion from Manor to Nashik on an INRC (Indian National Rally Championship) track. We began from Manor on the NH8 highway.
I have participated in TSD rally before and had gathered the patience to drive slowly, but Aneesh being new to the TSD circus found it rather frustrating to drive at speeds less than 40km/hr. Even trailers overtook us on the highway. Soon, we got on to a tiny remote road, and the speeds were sufficient to drive on.
We covered a mere 56km in about an hour and half’s time. Soon, I realised that the route is straight, and there are absolutely no turns. I did all my calculations on speed and time and handed it over to Aneesh. All he had to tell me was to drive at what speed and when. After this I got behind the wheel. This was the first time I was driving the Quanto.
The 1.5-litre diesel engine is a gem, it didn’t have any issues to pull even at low engine rpm. It never left like a three-cylinder ever, though there was some amount of vibration at idling. The gear stick is tall and it is rubbery, we weren’t happy with the way it engaged. The ride of the Quanto was on the softer side, this means the vehicle was sailing on smooth roads, gliding over pot holes. However the downside of this suspension set-up was the handling. The tall design and the smaller length of the Quanto meant some good amount of body roll. But then the Quanto has been designed for weekday and weekend usage.
The roll reduces when you completely load the vehicle, which does make sense. You should buy a Quanto only if you need a seven-seater weekend getaway. With the added weight, the Quanto’s handling is decent. If you need to take only five, well then pick another five-seater SUV. The route was absolutely scenic and with the monsoon going on everything around was lush green. It was getting dark and Aneesh’s urge to drink wine was on the rise.
This along with the winding roads woke the rally driver within me. We were flying on the hills and us being the last car to start as we were car number 16, we were amongst the first to reach the fuelling station, which was our last stop for the day. In this run, our fuel efficiency dropped from 18km/l to 14km/l on the trip computer. We had lost the challenge of best fuel efficiency.
Post the fuel efficiency check, we headed to Sula Vineyard. This was a bit of a challenge as there was something wrong in the Tulip, but not for us. We had Aneesh on board with us. He could smell the grapes and route us correctly. The end result was all getting lost and we reaching Sula Vineyard moments after the organisers reached.
We were complaining of the body roll on the Quanto, and on the other hand we had the most fun while driving on winding roads, the suspension soaked most of jolts and bumps and the large tyres ensured the smoothness too. The high ground clearance gave us the assurance that we could go over most of the things on the road, and not worry about scraping the under belly, like that of a sedan.
All and all, it was a good fun TSD for us. Mahindra has several of these trips for its existing and potential customers at a minimal cost for participation. If you too are looking for something of this sort, then just check Mahindra Adventure’s calendar.