Tata Motors started the MUV trend way back in 2007 when they actually plonked the Tata Sumo on Indian soil. It was the only choice of MUV then which had space and the utility looks. At those times, people weren’t accustomed to bread boxes but then they started gradually liking it. After that, the MUV remained largely unchanged from the time of its inception in 1997. Others followed the trend and soon there was a swarm of competitors for the gritty Tata. To counter this, the company brought on the Tata Sumo Victa in 2004. But it was more of a sticker job with some minor changes to the interiors. Oh, I forgot, there was a turbocharged engine version on offer as well. It is said that the MUV derived its name from one of the pioneers in Telco namely Mr Sumant Moolgaonkar. The initial two letters from his first and last name made up the name as SUMO. Now, the reason I am harping about all this history is because I have decided to go for a review of the Tata Sumo Grande MK2 in India. This was the major change made to the MUV in 2008 which gave it a more up market look and up to the mark with other contemporary MUVs in the market. There are two different types of the same vehicle available. One has got the MK2 moniker attached to it and the other without the same.
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Going by its look, it is still a bread box albeit with a good redesign. It now carries some curves which were totally absent from even the Tata Sumo Victa. So in effect, this is a good thing. It somehow reminded me of the Land Rover series. Am I making fun of it? No, but then look at it from the front and remove some plastics from the face and insert metal and you would definitely feel the same way as I felt. The front doesn’t seem to be made of metal. Infact it does look plasticky. It may be due to the color scheme but then the eternal feeling is always there. The three horizontal grilles upfront along with the Tata logo in the center give it a pronounced stance. The head lamps are the same units from the Tata Sumo Victa but with a wide spread beam of light. The muscular stance of the bumper also reminds that the Tata Sumo Grande MK2 in India is going the up market way. The air dam has meshes and are fitted with flush fog lamps. There is a skid plate below the front bumper to complete that good boy image.
The side panels are flat ones and the muscular wheel arches boast of having 16 inch wheels with the tyre size as 235 / 70 R 16. The usual complaint regarding a Tata car about it been undertyred has been suitably addressed here. Also the wheel caps look concept car like. The rear of the car disappoints and I personally feel that the older Victa had a good rear end. The brick feeling comes alive again here. The tail lamps however look every bit American and that means very stylish. The chrome strip running inside them do a good job of masking the bread box look of the car. The reflectors on the rear bumper are classily placed. Did I mention that the Tata Sumo Grande MK2 in India comes in some of the most eye catching colors like orange, green, golden, beige and the usual gray, white, red and black. The outside rear view mirrors boast of having turn indicators embedded in them.
The wheel base of the new MUV has been increased to 2550 mm and this means an increase by 150 mm. This means better space utilization inside. Open the door of the MUV and you are greeted with a beige upholstery instead of the gray ones that Tata Motors prefer. The Tata Sumo Grande MK2 in India now is one of the most spacious vehicles in its category. The driver’s seat is adjustable but then the only problem is that, it adjusts only for height. The tilt adjustable steering wheel in the meanwhile is a boon for those pot bellied ones who would otherwise have to contend with having the steering wheel nestling against their stomachs. Good thing is that both the co-passenger and driver get lumbar adjust. Now, as far as I remember none of the other MUVs have this feature. But then comes the bad things. Under thigh support is not so optimal for the driver and passengers. Some other Tata gremlins like the indicator stalks been too far from the driver, back lighting for the switches not so clear, the oddly shaped gear lever knob and then lack of quality all around remain. The steering wheel is a tad too big however the chrome ringed dials look cool while the fake wood trim for the central console looks and feels cheap. Open the glove box and then shut it and you would notice the panel gaps.
The best seats are the middle row which gives one enough of head room as well as leg space. The middle and even the rear seat passengers are treated to a AC vents placed in the roof lining. No issues in the cooling department. The third row of seats, unlike other MUVs can also be used by adults. For a MUV, there are reasonable storage spaces in and around the cabin. With all the seats in place, the Sumo boasts of having about 410 liters of space but that triples when the last row of seats is flipped forward.
Handling and ride quality
The Tata Sumo Grande MK2 in India has the coil springs at the front along with independent double wishbones whereas the rear boasts of parabolic leaf springs. The construction of this MUV is still body-on-ladder-frame. The new MUV has been actually given a softer setup than the rural Tata Sumo Victa. While the older Sumo had problems in its ride quality in city speeds, the new one doesn’t display any such tendency. It soaks in every bump thrown at it by the Indian roads. But then the tall stance of this MUV does have some crosswind effects on it while out on the highway. The high profile tyres however do bring in some respect but then the damage to the ride is done by the bobbing and pitching of the nose while going over undulations at speeds.
Handling was never the forte of the Tata Sumo and it certainly doesn’t break new grounds with Sumo Grande. The car is reluctant to go around corners and if you try pushing it(you should have real guts), then it will protest and though the tyres may seem chunky, they break traction easily. One of the main culprits that the handling seems wayward is because of the artificial steering feel. I would rather say that there is no feel at all. Good that Tata have learnt their lessons and have introduced a much more livelier steering wheel for the Tata Indica Vista as well as the Tata Indigo Manza, not to speak about the Tata Aria.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
The Tata Sumo Grande MK2 in India is been offered with two engine options. One is the 2.2L DICOR engine borrowed from the Tata Safari but then is available in a lower state of power. It makes 120 PS of peak power @ 4000 rpm whereas the maximum torque of around 250 Nm is available from 1500-3000 rpm. The other motor is 2.0 TD turns out 90 PS at 4300rpm and maximum torque of 190 NM at 2000-3000 rpm. The gear box is a 5 speed manual on both the versions. The gear box is a far better unit than the one found on the earlier Sumo. It is precise and doesn’t require too much of coaxing but then it has that long throws and the odd gear lever which isn’t suitable for human palms. The DICOR engine covers the 0-100 kmph run in 17.4 seconds. This is at par with the other MUVs in its class. The second unit in the meanwhile reaches the same mark in 21.7 seconds. The gear ratios are nicely spaced out with bias been for taller ratios in interests of fuel economy. Unlike the Sumo Victa, you are spared the troubles of waiting for the engine to respond to accelerator dabs. The variable geometry turbo does its job well and ensures that there is minimum turbo lag for the DICOR engine. Imagine if Tata would have allowed the 140 Ps motor of the Safari in this? The mid as well as low end torque that the motor generates is astounding. The best part is that the DICOR motor is very refined, a big change from the Sumo Victa and even at high revs, there was little or no engine note.
Brakes, another Tata gremlin seem to persist even in the Tata Sumo Grande in India. Brake fade was noticed even in the initial 2-3 runs. Since ABS or EBD aren’t offered, more often than not, I had the rear skidding out of line under heavy braking. If Tata couldn’t offer ABS, they could have atleast tried for discs at the rear. There is not much on the safety front and it is the usual 3 point seat belts and the collapsible steering column. The Tata Sumo Grande MK2 version also has the same things other than an improved disc brake caliper which is said to be a good aid as far as reducing braking distances is concerned.
Fuel efficiency of the Tata Sumo Grande in India is good as compared with the competition. My test car returned 11.2 kmpl in the city whereas the open highway saw it returning 17.5 kmpl. All these figures were achieved with the AC on. For the lesser powered motor, the figures were 8.8 kmpl and 15.1 kmpl respectively for the city-highway cycle. These figures are better than those of the Chevrolet Tavera, Mahindra Xylo and even the mighty Toyota Innova.
Well, the Tata Sumo Grande MK2 in India isn’t what we could call as the perfect right step for Tata Motors. The company has tried to shift the image of the Tata Sumo from a utilitarian to an urban hippie. But then they concentrated too much on the look of it that they forgot the interior aesthetics required to make a MUV a family car. That saying, however there would be takers for the Tata Sumo Grande MK2. It is loaded with more creature comforts, has subtle differentiating styling elements and also the stellar fuel economy which a buyer in this class would be clamoring for. The Sumo Grande is offered in 11 variants. The Tata Sumo Grande price starts at 5,80,215 for the base version and ends at Rs 7,79,043 for the top end variant. Rs 7,79,043 is the Tata Sumo Grande Mk2 price for top end version. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai.
Technical specifications Of Tata Sumo Grande MK2
Engine details: In-Line Engine, 2.2L DiCOR engine with variable geometry turbo
Maximum Power: 120 PS at 4,000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 250 Nm between 1,500-3,000 rpm
No. of Cylinders: 4
Valves Per Cylinder: 4
Fuel Supply System: CRDI
Valve Configuration: DOHC
Turbo Charger: Yes
Transmission details: 5 Speed Manual
Front Suspension: Independent, Double Wishbone with Coil Springs
Rear Suspension: Parabolic Leaf springs
Steering details: Hydraulically Power assisted with tilt functions
Turning Radius (wheel base): 5.3 m
Front Brake Type: Ventilated Disc
Rear Brake Type: Self adjusting drums
Mileage-City (kmpl): 11.2
Mileage-Highway (kmpl): 17.5
Fuel Type: Diesel
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 65
Emission Norm Compliance: Bharat Stage IV
Tyre Size: 235/70 R 16
Tyre Type: Tubeless Radial Tyre
No of Doors: 5
Seating Capacity: 8
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