My first memory of the Sumo is of a massive vehicle barrelling towards my dad's car while waiting at a red light. I remember it coming to a halt next to our car and sort of going into a nosedive. In my childhood ignorance, oblivious to the benefits of hard suspension, I thought wow! That must be fun." It's been several years since that day and now as fate would have it, I was sitting at the wheel of the new Tata Sumo Gold.
The new Sumo gets new stickers on the outside and apart from this; it is not very different from the previous generation car. The insides have been reworked with better fabrics, front seats with two stage adjustable lumbar support, a powerful aircon unit and a pretty decent music system. One of the best parts about the Sumo has always been driver seat visibility and this proves to be the Gold's strong point as well.
The Sumo Gold now gets a BS IV compliant turbocharged diesel heart. The 2956cc mill churns out 85PS of power at 3000rpm and 250Nm of torque between 1000 and 2000rpm. The 250Nm of torque means that this Sumo will still be the best at what it does - moving around a bunch of people without batting an eyelid. But when it comes to moving fast, the Sumo is not a vehicle that is eager. The MUV takes a painful 31.68 seconds to get to 100kmph. But then considering this is not a vehicle made for high speed performance, this is completely forgivable. During our test we saw a top speed of 102.7kmph. Beyond this, the UV became truly scary to drive. The diesel burner gives a mileage of 12.42kmpl in the city and 16.47kmpl in the highway adding up to an average of 13.42kmpl, which is a very reasonable figure for a car like this. In comparison the Bolero DI 2WD gives 9.2kmpl on average. The guys at Tata claim that the gearbox now has shorter throws, but even if this has been worked on, the UV still has really long throws. However, the shift quality is not that bad if you can ignore the gnashing noises the box makes.
In typical Sumo fashion the suspension is as soft as a freshly picked cotton bud and dives for the earth under braking. This means that at the hands of a rough driver, the passengers are going to be reaching for the sickness bags. But at the hands of a good driver, the UV will soak up most of the nastiest bumps on the road with ease.
So what this new Sumo does is, improve upon the older version a bit. Priced from Rs 5.23lakh (ex-Pune), the Gold is a step in the right direction. However, to get the attention of the younger generation, Tata will have to work a lot harder than just new paint, a mildly more powerful engine and better fabrics.