Thursday, December 24, 2009

My first Diesel Burnout!

It'll take a while for me to take FIAT seriously. I can recall the numerous FIATs (the good ol' premier Padmini) my father had. The story was the same: sell the aging FIAT, move to a new place and buy another second hand FIAT. Then, there was something more besides Ambassador and FIAT. It was called Maruti Suzuki and we have never looked back to FIAT ever since. I tried to convince my father to get the FIAT Uno or the Sienna but then the Accent turned out to be the new kid ruling our hearts.. Nevertheless, one can hardly ignore the way FIAT has made a comeback. The crumpling partnership with an industrial tools company, failed service network- FIAT has finally put that ll behind and collaborated with the TATA’s to come back with a bang!

Sorry to mislead you guys all this while, but the car I’m gonna talk about here is not a Fiat. What follows comes from my experience of driving a Maruti Suzuki with a FIAT heart. Ironic isn’t it? FIAT is supplying a heart to the brand that was responsible for obliterating it in the 90s..

The story starts from the G-8 summit in my hometown. Now don't ask about G-8; that's the silly name we've given to our elite gang. When we stepped out of the restaurant after a merry time, I was zapped to see a shining new Suzuki Ritz. The modest, humble and the true gentleman- KT the lawyer had failed to mention that he's got a new car! I was on KT's head congratulating him and cursing him for not giving this news earlier!

KT threw me the keys in a filmy style and I clumsily missed them & picked them up from the ground. Clumsy start; but thankfully I am a bit better handling the wheel and the gearbox. I find the Ritz quite hideous looking. They've done a superb job optimizing space, but the car is almost as box'y as the Wagon-R. The headlamps make it look a little dumb and the rear would be more suitable to bring up the rear of a MPV on a Van. Since I did not take a full look of the vehicle and jumped to the driver's seat instantly, I had missed a big point by missing the small badge at the rear. Only when I cranked the ignition that it struck me- 'IT's DIESEL!!!'

This changed a lot of things instantly. I was wondering why KT didn't go for the i-10, but now my pulse was racing fast as it dawned to me that I finally had an opportunity to drive the world famous FIAT 1.3L Multijet! The 2005's "Engine of the year (1.0-1.4L category)"- the one that powers legendry cars like Fiat Punto, Ford Ka, Opel Astra, Lancia Musa, Alfa Romeo 159, & Fiat 500. Though most of the above mentioned cars have spruced this engine up with a turbo-charger, the cost sensitive ones at home don't have that luxury. Suzuki Swift, Suzuki Ritz, Fiat Palio, Punto , Indica Vista (Quadrajet-ted) come with the original unit while the recently launched FIAT 500 is the only one supposed to get a turbo charger.

As I pressed the accelerator, the response was immediate. You expect a lag in diesels when almost by definition- torque is supposed to kick in at higher RPM's. That too; needs to be augmented with a turbo charger. But right now, there was adequate punch. To be honest, I felt I was driving on gasoline! KT was talking about what superb mileage this car gives while something else was on my mind. Something I had never tried on a diesel driven vehicle. I told KT about it. KT thought for a second, asked me if I'd done this before and gave me a go ahead. In midst of the conversation, we hadn't yet realized that we were almost at our old school gate. Emotions heightened.. The memories of guys showing off their cars n bikes under the gates of 'Delhi Public School' came back. And so did the feeling of absolute hatred, jealousy and pain. We were decent kids remember? Borrowing dad or mom's car was out of question before 18. All we could do was gawk at these cool kids and admire their wheels.

Well, call it fate or whatever- we had stopped right in front of those gates, years later in the dead of the night. And at our disposal was a modest 75bhp engine with loads of torque beating the higher bhp engines.

The road was empty and I eased to a halt in the middle of the road. I engaged the handbrake slowly and built up the revs. When the tacho reached 4500rpm, I gripped the wheel tight, started releasing the clutch. As the power peaked and it felt the brakes could take no more, I released the handbrake instantly to greet the screeching tires as they screamed for grip.

The accelerator was floored and the speed of 35kmph was attained with the front tires still bellowing smoke and deafening screech. I engaged gear 2 and the transmission once again met the engine at excess of 4500rpm. The burnout continued a little more until grip was restored and the car continued accelerating remarkably on the straight road. Inside the cockpit, words of astonishment and abuses came up depending on one's manner of expressing awe at what the car had just done. I noticed that I was still clutching the steering tight. Then I remembered how I had fought for control in the last few seconds. Expected from the Suzuki package. Load a lot of features and numbers for us Indians. Nobody bothers about having a true car with a proper chassis.

Next Naman took the wheel. One of the top two maniacal drivers amongst us (No we didn't give it to Ayush next). While he drove, we verified the 0-100 acceleration and the braking figures and the car's maneuverability. It does feel a bit life threatening at some fast turns but that's a fair trade-off when you have tons of space..

We soon were dropped off while KT zipped away in his gleaming car. A good car with a brilliant engine!!

The magnificent 1.3!!

1 comment:

  1. i beg to differ about the looks, it looks pretty dashing!