“You’re going to Goa in a Sumo?!” were the words on everyone’s lips as soon as they heard that we were going to accompany the Hyosung GV650s to India Bike Week in our Tata Sumo Gold. But going we genuinely were in our Sumo Gold.
This wasn’t foolhardiness or masochism on our part. Neither was it that we didn’t have another car to go in; the simple explanation is that it met our requirements. We didn’t believe our ears when Tata asked us if we’d like to have a Sumo for a while, but on that trip to Goa is when we really started appreciating it. We loaded it up with luggage, sat five people in it, and it climbed up the hilly bits of NH17 without complaint. On our return, it cruised steadily at over 100kmph on NH4. Yes, it still remains tall and boxy and the steering feel isn’t particularly great, but you’ll be surprised to know that on the limit it is progressive. And heel-and-toe is possible (at least, if you have size 12 feet like I do.) The engine is really refined, it remains economical if unexciting, and the headlamps are quite effective out on the highway.
Sure, the lack of a single bottle holder or door pocket meant that there were more than a few water bottles rolling around on the floor, and mobile phones had to be pulled out of pockets for every single message, but beyond these minor annoyances was the fact that the Sumo came factory fitted with an iPod- and Bluetooth-compatible audio system whose sound quality is better than the system on a mid-variant Nissan Terrano.
We also inadvertently discovered a very interesting feature of the Sumo: if you run out of gas, you don’t have to tow it to a garage to bleed the fuel lines before running it again. Pop the hood and there’s a manual pump, so all you have to do is put a little fuel in the tank, pop the hood, pump away and drive off to the petrol pump!
There’s a terrible rattle from the centre console after the trip to Goa, and there is a noticeable creaking from the suspension. The upcoming service should sort it out.
The strangest thing about the Sumo is that despite its humble origins, and in spite of the impression it gives to other people when you say “I’m driving a Sumo”, it has now got to the point where no one minds having it around, and not just because of its utility. Here’s to looking forward to more long drives with the Sumo Gold.