CS Santosh brought us and this nation huge pride by being the first Indian to finish the mind numbingly gruelling Dakar rally. The least we could do was welcome the hero home when he landed at the Bangalore airport. The original plan was to ride our KTMs there to meet the KTM rider but that fizzled out when a last minute change in Santoshâ€™s flight plan meant weâ€™d have to ride through the night to make it on time. The backup was our shiny new Vento and since we werenâ€™t on bikes, Vaishali was happy to join Shumi, Halley and myself. We were finally out of Mumbai by 6pm with me behind the wheel. By now I was already very grateful for the DSG gearbox because Iâ€™d spent that last few hours battling traffic to collect my colleagues from their various homes all over Mumbai. The 7-speed unit is the same one from the TSI but it seems to have been recalibrated for the diesel engineâ€™s torque and doesnâ€™t feel quite as snappy.
As the miles went by we discovered two key things. One was that the Vento is spacious and comfortable for passengers at the rear and even Halley who usually hates being in the back was quite happy. Secondly – the engine is highly efficient and was returning over 800km on a tankful, even with our pedal close to the metal driving. Back off a bit and this should easily do a 1,000km on a tankful. What we didnâ€™t like was the heavily sprung accelerator which gets tiring on long drives and the multiple squeaks and creaks from the cabin that simply shouldnâ€™t be happening on a car this new. Still, the Vento entered our garage with a true trial by fire and passed with flying colours.
Total mileage 5,432km Â Date acquired Â Decâ€™14