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Old 19th April 2008, 18:45   #1
OEM
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Default TATA Grande Sumo. New clothes. New identity

I love this job! And why not? Working on an auto vertical for a website; displaying a little flair for writing and a nutty passion for automobiles and you get yourself a test drive with all the new launches in town. Not 1, 2 but 3 full days (yeah! You read that right, 3 full days).

But then hierarchy kicks in and as a subordinate, you get 1/3rd of that duration to drive it. And I had to make the best use of it.

So it was with a bit of misplaced nonchalance that I viewed the keys to the new GRANDE SUMO GX. Central locking, nice, very nice. My editor and I had snared the test drive based on our earlier test drive and write up on the Safari 2.2 Dicor. But this was another thing all together. This was TATA’s attempt at wrenching away what had essentially become the taxi-operators favourite and giving it a new set of clothes and heart. And boy, we were glad, when we laid our hands on the marine blue beast. Subtle colour, I’d say for a beast!
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The agreed route was a back-of-nowhere road connecting TIDEL Park to OMR to ECR, essentially to throw the vehicle around and then the highway to Mahabalipuram. And yeah, it did turn a lot of heads on the way.

The new TATA Grande Sumo comes with the same 2.2 Dicor engine as the Safari, albeit detuned to generate 120 PS.
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TATA perhaphs, did not want to take away the market share from India’s first true blood SUV, the Safari. That said; the new Sumo is still Grande in proportions. The tall intimidating stance, the stern-level perch for the driver, the clear visibility all around…the similarities end there. For the differences, take a look at this unintentional comparison; Unintentional, because this Victa had been tailing us until we stopped to give him a closer look.
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TATA realized that for the SUMO to be successful in its new avatar, it had to shed its tardy taxiwalla image. And that explains the new clothes. Subtler lines, more curves, a upwardly curved waistline, a rear door with a lot of bling and a good dose of chrome all round. All done with your garage in mind.
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The interiors have also gone on steroids. The wide seating captain seats with their individual armrests, the controls that fall easily into hand, the beautifully backlit instrument cluster, the meaty steering wheel etc. Actually, the steering wheel is kinda of…different. The horns are now stubbed into the X-axis and the Y-axis has a slit rod. Great if you are taking a turn in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Rest your thumb and index finger among then and the Sumo turns. No fighting with the steering wheel anymore.
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The center console is a let down, straight lift from the VICTA but now gets a brush of wood. TATA should have given it a curvier dash given the external change.
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The interiors are also where TATA’s famed foresight has been put to practise. The GX that we drove, had lumbar support and height adjustment. What I particularly liked was the sieve in the roof just above the middle row of seats. Tall passengers will not get a scalp massage every time the Sumo rolls over bumpy roads. The GX also has individual AC ducts for all 3 rows of seats. And a very effective AC at that.
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On the outside, a protective mesh below the engine bay to protect from random projectiles. Basically to protect the intercooler.
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And then there are the features that completely baffled me.
The gear stick…yeah, that’s what it is, a stick. It does not follow the contours of the palm and can get quite painful when constantly shifting in city traffic.(refer to the interiors image above; you'll know what I mean)

Also why have magazine pockets on the rear door if passengers in the rear cannot reach it?(refer to rear door image above) Why have a door opener inside when this door will only be opened from the outside? The front door power window controls and the sil are not the best placed either location-wise;one too low and the other too high.
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Well, we’ll wait for TATA to tell…

Enough bickering!! Put the SUMO on the road and it’s an altogether different story. If you can overrule the painful shift from 2nd to 3rd gear, that is (might have to do with the vehicle being ne). The Sumo quickly munches off the miles and is comfortable climbing into the 80s in the third gear. Slot the beast into the 4th and you are past 100. And the 5th gear gets you to 120 pretty quick. After which the power tapers off. On bumpy roads, slot the SUMO into 2nd and take your feet of the accelerator. This is no sluggish beast and treats potholes and bumps with equal disdain, the adequate 250 Nm of power doing the job here.

Here’s what you shouldn’t do with the SUMO. Don’t run it with the windows down; atleast one side down. (Smokers, beware). At speeds greater than 60, the glass area acts as vent and traps air into the SUMO thus throwing it off balance. Less said about the sound inside the cabin then, the better. And don’t cut sharply while overtaking. The tall stance, the plus 2 tonnes of weight and the leaf springs at the rear are not too comfortable being thrown into corners. And while taking U-turns, make sure to stay a good distance away from the center medians, the sidesteps could run foul with them.

So have TATA succeeded in making the SUMO desirable. The chassis has remained the same, the engine is from the same stable, just the configuration and clothes have changed, and how! Suddenly, you can own the SUMO and not be ashamed of it. After all, if feel and fuel efficiency is what you buy a car for, this does not disappoint. The GX we drove returned figures of 11.2 kmpl city and 14 kmpl on the highway.

So, is there something that TATA could have done better…in the top end atleast. Yes, atleast a torsion arm at the front, springs at the rear, a shriller horn, a higher front power window slot, alloys, fatter low profile footwear…gawd, the list is endless. And while you are at it, Mr.TATA, can you take a look at those gapping shut lines. You could pass a magazine through them.

That said, the first hurdle has been passed. Nobody will look down on the GRANDE SUMO anymore.

Taxiwallas, be damned.
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Note:The above test drive is as a regular user. I am neither a technically qualified test driver nor the other extreme of a guy who would buy a vehicle to use from point A to B.

Note to mods:This was a test drive vehicle (given by TATA, not from the dealer), which is why the number has not been masked off.

OEM
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Old 20th April 2008, 00:03   #2
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Good one OEM. Nice pix too.

Think guys with a taste for ICE can put a 8inch woofer in the rear door.
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Old 20th April 2008, 00:45   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OEM View Post
So have TATA succeeded in making the SUMO desirable. The chassis has remained the same, the engine is from the same stable, just the configuration and clothes have changed, and how!
The 2.2 engine is gem of a engine, city driving for Safaris are no more of an issue.

I had the oppurtunity of driving a black Grande today, and the front profile is fantastic.

Obviously performance and handling wise also much improved from Sumo. The slight difference from Safari, handling wise, starts from around 100 km/hr but then till 120 kph nothing big handling issues that may cause alarm.

The third row seating is the best ever, one doesn't feel that cramped.

And it scores also with a very respectable turning radius.

Some good alloys, higher profile tyres sorting out the squeal, and a black Grande sure is a head turner.

Last edited by adc : 20th April 2008 at 00:59.
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Old 20th April 2008, 01:53   #4
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Great review! Like the look from the front. The rear not so much.
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Think guys with a taste for ICE can put a 8inch woofer in the rear door.
That would be awfully small for the space inside.
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Old 20th April 2008, 14:31   #5
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Nice Pics OEM !! I like the front . Rear lights kinda remind me of the Bolero.
Luv the color of the Grande!!!
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Old 20th April 2008, 14:35   #6
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Nice review OEM,

About the reclining seats in the middle row, which folded is the entry passage to the 3rd row, how good is it?
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Old 20th April 2008, 15:16   #7
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Nice n neat write up ! Its a 'grande' effort from TATA but dont know how many would be bowled over with it.
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Old 20th April 2008, 19:08   #8
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Nice detailed report and the pictures detailing every aspect of the new features.
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Old 20th April 2008, 19:50   #9
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Nice report with a nice set of reviews OEM.
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Old 20th April 2008, 20:16   #10
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superb review, and well written too
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Old 20th April 2008, 22:33   #11
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Good one OEM!

A good all round review.
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Old 21st April 2008, 10:20   #12
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I noticed two things from your pictures:

a) Your brake fluid is leaking from the container, please get it checked/ cleaned. Its all red around the neck and cap due to spillage.

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b) TATA's have used the same engine cover as in Safari but the location of radiator has changed in the Grande and the neck/cap is not where is is supposed to be, but thats by design its not a fault, so no worries.
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Old 21st April 2008, 11:57   #13
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Nice review, although I wouldn't call the interiors as luxurious or even on steroids. Its pretty spartan.
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Old 21st April 2008, 14:35   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dadu View Post
I noticed two things from your pictures:

a) Your brake fluid is leaking from the container, please get it checked/ cleaned. Its all red around the neck and cap due to spillage.

Thanks Dadu
We noticed that too. And had it cleaned up. the guys at the dealer apparently had not tightened the cap.



b) TATA's have used the same engine cover as in Safari but the location of radiator has changed in the Grande and the neck/cap is not where is is supposed to be, but thats by design its not a fault, so no worries.
Must say Dadu, that's one hell of an observation. yes, it is moved about an 1 1/2 away from where it sits on the Safari.

OEM

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Nice review OEM,

About the reclining seats in the middle row, which folded is the entry passage to the 3rd row, how good is it?
Heavy (atleast it felt that way to me) But easily stowable. And yes you need to be a little muscular and flexible to fold the seat and get it too.

OEm

Last edited by tsk1979 : 21st April 2008 at 15:18.
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Old 21st April 2008, 17:46   #15
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the rear/sides look terrible and the interiors are gawky. IMO, an upgrade for the taxiwallas, nothing more.
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