With my co-driver reading out pace notes from his advanced GPS-equipped tablet, I felt strangely enthused despite a long driving day. As part of the Hyundai i-Drive India event, wherein a small assortment of i10s are out driving on the Golden Quadrilateral, I was on the list to do the Mumbai-Goa leg and there is, of course, no reason for one to ever refuse the opportunity to visit the fantastic state. So, after an 8 am start from Mumbai, our group of three i10s and a back-up i20 were making rapid progress, each one of us eager to reach our designation. It was the question of a few icy ones and some seafood, after all.
The i10 is a car I've driven on a couple of fairly long stints before I entered the world of motoring journalism and it's a car I've always liked. It's spacious, well-equipped, well-built and looks quite nice, too - in that 'dhansak' yellow on the older i10s, particularly so. Not surprisigly, then, Hyundai has managed to sell over 12 lakh units of the i10 worldwide and because India is the only country where the i10 is produced, it was only befitting to celebrate this feat across the length and breadth of the country.
But first, let's tell you what this special i10 is about. Apart from some aesthetic dashboard inserts, like seen on an earlier generation of the i10, the i10 i-Tech gets a reverse-assist camera (incorporated into the central mirror) - a first for a car in this segment - and also a steering mounted pod for audio/bluetooth controls. The car was also prepped-up for this trip particularly, which meant the addition of a navigation unit and also a unique gear-shift locking mechanism that ensured safety when parking overnight. Last but not the least is the 1.2-litre motor, which is not only very zippy in the city, but is also rather suited to long, high-speed highway runs.
After nearly eight hours of being on the road, our little convoy was only too keen on making it to Goa just around sunset. Having stopped for an evening cuppa on the scenic Amboli ghat, we were sufficiently refreshed and the last 100 km or so, from Amboli to Goa via Sawantwadi was truly an eye-opener. Having put the i10 through bad Mumbai roads, followed by a fast Mumbai-Pune-Kolhapur-Nipani expressway stint and then a spectacularly bad entry onto the Ajra <i>ghat<i>, we were now demanding a smashing cornering stint from the i10, and it delivered. With an enthusiastic journo for a co-driver, we conquered the last 100 km in a flash and, more importantly, in decent comfort. The air-con had remained consistently powerful despite the mercury crossing the 40-degree mark at one point, and the car, despite being pushed at every given opportunity, was composed and entirely unstressed.
Overall, the drive was fantastic, and the i10 did well to remind us what a superbly packaged product it is. Not to mention, we did manage to grab a few icy ones and some seafood!