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Old 19th March 2007, 08:12   #1
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Default Truckin'.. A journey of 7 years, 5 months & 78300 km with the Sumo Victa GX Turbo

I love the Palio. All that was left to do was to have a TD, work on the finance, and drive her home. Unless something had gone wrong during the TD…. About 3 months after the initial ook-in at the Palio, it was time to take the plunge, I decided to look around, just for the heck of it. And then things went awry.

We have a Indigo Marina that is being used for family, and also to move stuff regularly. The Marina has allowed us to do this comfortably, but is getting dirty in the process. The closest thing in India, to a pick-up is the Bolero Camper, or the Tata 207 DI-Ex. But neither can double up as a family car. Both are out-and-out commercial, work-force-oriented vehicles that will go on for ever, carrying all the cement/bricks that you can load on it, or even workers. But that wasn’t what I wanted.

The options kept narrowing down to the Sumo. I wanted something more than the bare-bones people mover, taxi-style Sumo SE+. Something that can also be used for long drives & out-station trips. Tried the lower end Victa’s. The 68BHP seemed sufficient for non-A/C driving, but absolutely under-powered when using the A/C, esp when it came to over-taking
maneuvers.

In a kind of first in the Indian Automotive Industry, Tata had made an attempt to offer engine & trim combination options. The brochures showed the Victa EX as being available with the 90BHP TCIC as on option. The GX was also available for a while with the NA engine. But these options were stopped after a while, and there were just 3 models that were available – the LX with A/C, EX with A/C & P/S [both 10 seaters], and a GX Turbo with a TCIC and the works. [You can still see some GX’s on the roads, with the NA engine]. The GX Turbo was 7.10L OTR – a Whopping 1.2L+ more than the SE+. But, looking back now, the money spent is worth it.



I would have loved to have the old Tata 207 / Tata Mobile, which would have taken care of the hauling part, and still work as a vehicle for my own use. Don’t need much for one person.. And would have been a hat-ke drive. But couldn’t find one. I did have a look at the Bolero & the Bolero Camper. The Bolero’s are rugged, proven, but IMO, a little rudimentary & plasticy inside. The 2.5L, Turbo charged, 63 BHP engine didn’t seem adequate. Even with a 180Nm torque.

Registration done, got the truck home end November 2005. A quick trip to Kolar revealed problems with the FIP. It remained problematic even after servicing – smoky, low pick-up, low FE. After another attempt by the TASS at fixing it, I just left it with the TASS for them to get the replacement from Lucas. FIP was replaced with less than 1.5K on the odo. Things were different after that. Not perfect though – the FIP still is losing timing. Working on it with the TASS.

This is a lovely truck. Addictive. Good road presence. And all my fellow Sumo drivers have made things that much more easy for me. I actually love driving this one, whether it is in the bumper-to-bumper city traffic, or out on the highway. The power-steering makes maneuvering in city traffic a breeze. Unless when I have to parallel park – because I don’t find enough free space. And no, I haven’t built any more muscle mass after a year’s driving.

I have always liked simple, well-defined styling. The Sumo with it’s clean, lines and a certain flow, was a natural for me. The contrast colored cladding made it even more appealing. In contrast to the Scorpio’s side claddings which looked like the flab on a Sumo wrestler. Ironic, isn’t it? I love the shape & styling of the bonnet. I like the way the water-drain runs along the roof. The way this is raised to accommodate the rear door. I love the way the corners are shaped – the angular transition between the sides & the rear side. And I love the feeling of looking at the bonnet out of the corner of my eye when I make the turns.



Inside, there’s a lot of space. This is a 7 seater, unlike the regular 10 seater for the non-GX models. The GX has two bucket seats up front, with lumbar support. The jump seats at the rear have been reduced from the regular 2 seats a side to 1, to give more leg room for the front & 2nd row. There is an optional 8 seater, with a 60:40 split middle bench and a third row bench. But the 3rd row [as in the Scorpio] will not have much leg room.

Get into the driver’s seat and everything seems to be in reach. A steering wheel inclined at about 30 degrees. The utility box between the front seats allows you to rest your elbow on it while you use your right hand to work the steering. The gear lever position allows you to shift gears comfortably. The long stick means you will take about a second or two more to complete the change. But you get used to it quickly. At the base of the gear lever are the
switches for the power windows. This and the steering wheel & lighting & wiper switches are taken straight off the Indica / Indigo. The A-pillar has a pretty steep angle, and is un-obtrusive.

There’s a roof-mount blower unit between the B-pillars. Helps cool the rear area much faster. I say blower since the A/c will work only when switched on from the dash. Tata claims other-wise - they call it a twin A/C unit.

A minute’s idling in the morning or a cold engine helps a lot. The 190Nm of torque from the 1948cc, 90BHP TCIC IDI engine moves the 2 tonner very well. This is the same engine as in the non-DICOR Safari… It is not meant for sprints or the quarter mile dash. So expect to get beaten off the blocks. But once into 2nd gear, you can surprise a few people. That is, with out the A/c. With A/c, the truck is a little sluggish when starting from stand-still, and when you want to increase speed suddenly. Then again, when moving from stand-still, one is non-Turbo territory. It could also just be me – haven’t been able to compare it with other Victa’s or a Safari. On the highway, you can go all day, with a/c, and never feel it lacking power or you feeling tired.

Typical operating range is between 1.5K to 2K rpm. May be 2.2K if doing 110kmph with A/C. It red-lines at abut 4.2K rpm, and also has an immobilizer. NVH is good. The engine sounds sufficiently powerful, but is mostly a hum. Braking is sufficient with discs up front and the standard drums at the rear.

The pedals are placed well, with a space in-between. I like the position of the accelerator. When I am not wearing shoes, I drive bare-feet. Helps me rest my entire foot on the floor and use just my toes to work the accelerator. Have found this to be very comfortable, esp when on long drives. The clutch is not hard to use.

The dual-synchro G-76-5/3.87 gear box is purpose-ful. It has never felt vague or hard, and have not had any problems with it. Changing gears does not need much effort, helped a bit by the longish lever. The only time I notice the gear box is when I try to engage the 1st gear, when down-shifting from 2nd. The lever seems to offer a little resistance at that transitionary speed.

FE: The engine showed a slight difference around the 15K mark when it seemed to have begun settling down. I have been able to get about 10 kmpl non a/c in Bangalore city, when using IOC Xtra-Mile. I used Shell for a long time, and was happy with it. But for some time in between, thought Shell gave lower figures. A recent run on Shell returned about 9.5 kmpl.

Have been having problems with FE when using the A/c. Current figures, post 4th service, are about 8.3 kmpl with 100% a/c, in Bangalore city traffic. I could get a little more, but my gear changes are at text book style [read owners-manual style] 20/40/60/80. This means that I am just about able to get into 3rd when driving in city. There is a rare, short burst of 4th when I am on the ring roads or on Kanakapura road. But I do capitalize on the momentum the
truck has when I know I have to stop and have a clear stretch in front of me, by shifting to neutral and coasting to a halt. An early trip on NH-4 [before 1st service] returned 12kmpl, doing a steady 100-105 kmph & 100%A/C.

Top speed at max rated load, is 115kmph for the TCIC engine. Cant throw it around like a car, but for all the 20K km’s she has done, have not had any concerns about the handling. Family members who have travelled in a Scorpio sitting in the rear [not middle] have complained of un-easiness and being thrown around in the Scorp. They say the Victa is much better behaved than the Scorp .. and I will take their word on this.

The stock Bridgestone HT-689 215/75 R15 tyres work just fine.. sufficient grip, no road noise. I’m using all the 5 tyres in the rotation cycle, and expecting the tyres to last a good 70K. No alloys on this, even though the GX Turbo is the top-end Victa model.

Suspensions: Independent in front, parabolic leaf springs at the back, and anti-roll bars at both ends. It is never bouncy, but feel some rattle on bad roads because of the spare tyre being mounted on the rear door. At times like that, the Victa reminds me of another truck – the Nissan XTerra. But not that bad. With a full complement of passengers, the truck is quieter, and feels smoother too. Unless loaded, need to be gentle over the speed breakers. I checked with Psycho if we could do anything with the rear suspensions. But adding another leaf would make it feel a little more soft by making it a little more bouncy, and also increase the rear height a bit .. so dropped the idea.

The dashboard and console are kind of simple and functional. The switches for the A/C, fog lamps & rear wash & wipe feel a little vague. The a/c vents are not well built .. have had two replacements of the vents when the fins lost alignment just by moving the fins when trying to change direction of air flow. Removing a CD from the HU can be tricky when in 1st / 3rd or 5th gear. There is a coin tray below the HU slot, but not well designed.



The other major complaint about the dashboard is the section below the glove box. See the pic. Co-passengers will not be able to stretch their legs.



And another: Lack of a roof-mount lamp for the 3rd row. There are two lamps, one for the front and another for the middle row. The rear end even seems to have a provision for a lamp, but no lamp itself.

The three speed wiper could have been designed better, speed wise. The intermittent speed is fine. But the slow speed setting is a little slow, and the fast wipe speed seems a little too fast. I don’t understand the need for three sets of speeds – we could have just the intermittent speed covering the entire range.

A single, two direction nozzle on the bonnet for the front wind-shield and a well placed, D-pillar mounted nozzle to the right of the rear door, for the rear window.

The stock 55/60W head lights work well. The pilot lamp has a separate reflector than the head lamps. These, and the indicators are housed in a clear-lens plastic head lamp “glass” casing. I managed with the 55/60W H4’s for almost a year. But the high-beams of the bikes got the better of me, and I moved to Bosch 90/100W H4’s, with a 200W relay. The “fog” part of rear fog lamps is a mis-nomer .. it is red, acting like a second set of tail lamps.



The rear indicators are nice and bright, but has a problem with the rubber lining/ gasket that is there between the indicator assembly & the body. Dust gets through to the reflectors and makes the rear indicators look dull. My rear right indicator even took water during normal washing. Was replaced under wty. Not to take any chances, have applied Anabond on the lining. Things have been better after that.



The mud flaps for the front wheels are a little short, resulting in water splashing on to the side step. Solved the problem by extending the front mud flaps. Also, have seen a lot of Sumo’s with rust in the section below the doors, just above the side step. Behind the bottom end of the plastic part you see here, is a cavity. During rains, the water gets behind this plastic lining, taking with it some mud. After a while, this cavity gets filled with mud .. .. Have used Anabond again here to seal this cavity., and Fevibond to stick the plastic piece to the under-lying arch. Hoping that by not allowing water and mud to get behind this lining, I can atleast delay any rusting in this area.



A major grouse about the rear wheel well design is the section between the wheel-well and the rear door. There is a rubber piece that is placed there to stop water .. I feel this could have been designed better, To be like that on a car. Or like the way Honda has done it with the CR-V.

Panel gaps are not too big, and are mostly even. The gaps have allowed me to mount a set of rubber linings on the door edges, so the edges are protected if the door edge hits anything when it is being opened. On the rear door, the right edge [near the hinges] has lesser gap than the left edge. Come to think of it, I can use this rubber lining very neatly and actually make the panel gaps even.



I have also had the odd problem, like the front seat belts are now having problems in retraction. A trim on the B-pillar was cracked at delivery time, but has been replaced under wty.

Could Tata have made this better? Definitely Yes. Better QC to start with. Case in point is my rear right window. Look at the alignment of the windows and you can see what I mean.



The utility box cover hinge could have been better built. The visors are cheap :-(..



And a small wish-list:
* Would have loved a little more power & torque. May be a 2.0L DICOR?
* A slightly longer wheel base.
* EPS instead of the hydraulic P/S.
* Rear suspensions from the Safari /Sierra.
* Small things like a map pocket in the doors.

* Would have been good if Tata had made the 60:40 split bench as standard for all GX models.

* And an a/c that’s not so noticeable, because of the load it puts on the engine. Hope it is just my A/c, and hope that it is fixed soon.

ICE is an Alpine CDA-9826 HU, with a pair of 4" Hertz DCX-100 on the dash & a pair of Alpine 6.5" SPS 170A’s at the rear. The mandatory coatings have not been missed. Need to get a set of crash-guards fabricated for the rear. The seat covers are from G-Sport. While they look good, the fitting, esp for the 2nd row bench is real bad. Need to get it re-done. Even worse was the handling by the guys who fitted the seat covers.



Fifteen months have passed, and the Sumo is now ready for the 4th service. A couple of issues that need to be checked are :

1. Timing: I suspect it to be off again. Most certainly, it is. Last check some time after 3rd service, the timing was off by 8 degrees. The TASS fixed it, but the crispness was lost in a while.

What is normal behaviour for timing slipping off it's required setting ? If it is set today, and I drive for 5000 km [service to service], how much can the timing be 'off' by, as normal behaviour.

2. A/c issues: A recent check showed a whopping 25-27% difference in FE between 0% a/c and 100% a/c. Fuel is not a problem here. Have tried to keep conditions similar. The a/c increases engine speed by about 250-300 rpm. Cooling is sufficient, and I dont freeze when the a/c is on. I do not hear any cut-off when the a/c is running ..

Will keep the thread updated as things progress.


Pretty long report, but this is a LTR. Would have done it in parts if I had done reports at 5K, 10K, etc .. but here it is in one go. When I got the Sumo, I didn’t have the benefit of access to the knowledge and experience of TBHP-ians. It has not yet been a year of joining TBHP, but my thinking about auto’s has changed in a positive way. I am able to appreciate automobiles a little more. Thanks, guys


In hind-sight, I have not gone wrong with this one. Good that I did not wait for the Tata-TL which was a few months from the India launch. The TL turned out to be a glorified 207 DI-Ex, with a cabin that could have been much better, and really bad bench for the second row. And am glad that I got the TCIC engine. One thing I learnt in the process is to get most features for money being spent. I could have got a lower end Safari for a little more, but what’s a Safari without the luxuries? One that’s not a DICOR? The additional features that I have got in this one, has made the ownership experience that much more fun.

I will still take a Tata 207. A white-board single cab. One that works the way it was meant to, and is not showing even signs of falling apart in any way. I do find one, may be I will trade in the Marina for a Palio.

The Sumo has been fun. It is not perfect. But it works.

Last edited by .anshuman : 7th October 2010 at 23:03. Reason: Edited on request.
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Old 19th March 2007, 09:27   #2
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Re Timing - It just cant go off even after driving 10K KM, I have driven about 45k KM till now nd i never had to reset the timing. Either the Pump Internal Timing is off or you have a pump mount problem ...

Re AC - Do u think the Difference in FE is related to the Timing Issue above ??
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Old 19th March 2007, 10:20   #3
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I dont think the FE difference is related to the timing issue.

One more peice of info is that the FIP was changed very early. The FIP was DOA, so to speak. It was replaced with less than 1400 on the odo, after a couple of attempts of repairing it.

SUV, thanks. Pls let me know of anything that you can think of for these issues.
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Old 19th March 2007, 12:40   #4
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This is new to me,but how does timing go off??
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Old 19th March 2007, 13:11   #5
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i think what condor is saying is that the timing has slipped or advanced.
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Old 19th March 2007, 21:36   #6
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Does the Sumo have indica like system where one belt drive the Alternator/AC/PS/Brake booster?
If thats the case get the alternator bearing or the AC compressor bearing checked. Either of this jamming up partially will put more load on the engine that is actually necessary.
If the bearing jams it can stall the engine and lead to belt snapping too.
Even if sumo has separate belts there is a chance that AC compressor bearing is shot. This is a common problem with subros AC compressors.
Rev the engine slightly on neutral, if you hear a whine which lessenes when AC is switched on, your AC compressor bearing needs overhaul.
If you have extended warranty you will save 8000Rs.
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Old 19th March 2007, 23:00   #7
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@esteem_lover: The timing in these diesel engines don't "slip" or advance. The timing comes factory-locked or preset. Whenever you remove/refit the timing belt, the crank, cam and FIP pulleys have a fixed mark wherein you lock the degree at 1st cyl. TDC before removing the belt. Therefore, you can't adjust these settings.

@condor: When you say the timing was off by 8 degrees, I'm assuming the cam pulley. If that's the case, then 8 degrees is just about 1 tooth off the cam gear. Nevertheless, even that shouldn't happen under normal circumstances.

1) The cam/ FIP timing does not go off, per se. Unless the TASS guys fiddled with it in the first place. So don't worry. Except for the 80K replace intervals, you don't have to touch the timing belt.

2) Check the FICD kit. If the car idles at about 1100 RPM whilst the compressor is engaged, everything's peachy. Also, check out the A/C thermostat/ cut out. The disengagement of compressor clutch can't be noticed while the car is being driven, so let the car idle with the A/C on for about 15 mins. That should confirm the above.
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Old 20th March 2007, 07:55   #8
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tsk, it has two separate belts driving the compressor & alternator.

When I rev the engine at neutral, I dont really hear any whine. Just the increased speed. If I switch the A/c on at this point, the engine speed drops. Difference is about 200 rpm.

normal idle speed: 550 rpm [approx]
with a/c: 750 rpm. [below 800]

If I am revving to 1000 rpm, and I switch the a/c on, the engine speed drops to 800 rpm.

Veyron1, see engine speeds above. I havent heard the a/c thermostat cut-off in action yet. But then, I dont freeze. Cooling is just sufficient.

Didnt get this part:
Quote:
The disengagement of compressor clutch can't be noticed while the car is being driven,
. Switching the a/c on/off is very easily noticed. So much that if I need extra speed during an over-taking manouvre, I switch the a/c off.

Last edited by condor : 20th March 2007 at 07:57.
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Old 20th March 2007, 19:30   #9
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The Sumo's back from servicing. Timing was off - was reset.

Will update again with more details in a couple of days.
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Old 20th March 2007, 21:07   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by condor
Didnt get this part:
It means:

The A/C compressor has an electromagnetic clutch that actuates the compressor, when you switch on the compressor switch. The clutch engages/disengages the compressor pulley from the input shaft. Whenever the switch is activated, the clutch is engaged, and the compressor pulley rotates alongwith the input shaft. When disengaged, the pulley is freewheeling.

The cut-out/thermostat determines the intervals at which the clutch is to be engaged/disengaged. Under normal driving conditions, this cannot be noticed, especially if you're above 3000 RPM. The turbo in the Sumo TCIC kicks in at about 2500, so basically, under normal driving conditions, the thermostat working is very subtle. The only way to find out properly,is the RPM fluctuation under idle.

The idling speeds mentioned by you are pretty low. Usually, the TCIC should idle at about 850. Without A/C.

Keep us updated.
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Old 21st March 2007, 03:11   #11
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What is the mileage you are getting on your Victa? and which Pump is it running on? Is the cooling problem new or did it start anytime recently?
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Old 4th April 2007, 22:33   #12
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Good review condor.Pl get some upsized tyres and spacers - and massive chrome alloys: and watch pedestrians and other road users pull over and salute you. I had TD the-then newly launched Turbo Vista GX in 2005- loved the lorry for its sheer interior space - and the petrified respect other road users gave. Only complaint was the turbo kicking in from ~ 2200 rpm upwards -so in city traffic the Victa was practically like the 68 bhp NA version. Had to give up thinking abt owning it/Safari due to insufficient parking space in my house for those sizes of vehicles.

Last edited by theMAG : 4th April 2007 at 22:49.
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Old 4th April 2007, 22:40   #13
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Nice review Condor.
There are quite a few Victas where i work, for inter-office use, and they do have surprisingly decent NVH levels even though they are non-turbo ones. I specially like the all round view it provides from the front seats. One can even see the end of bonnet, which further helps in congested driving.

Last edited by DCEite : 4th April 2007 at 22:42.
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Old 4th April 2007, 22:41   #14
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Quote:
I love the shape & styling of the bonnet.
Makes the two of us. Have driven sumos in the past....but haven't driven the turbo. Good review.

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Old 5th April 2007, 00:08   #15
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The safari had the same issue with the gearstick getting in the way....has been solved now with a shorter stick i suppose...maybe you could get your dealer to install that for you.

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