Return Of The Sumo: Tata Sumo Grande MK2

Tata Sumo Grande MK II full review and road test

Photo: Tata Sumo Grande MK II

Tata reached its pinnacle with the Sumo and the Indica in the passenger car segment, the Sumo was once the most selling in its class and was known to be a able performer but soon things changed with the introduction of the Mahindra Scorpio, Toyota Qualis which hit the Sumo’s sales figures.

Scroll down for a photo gallery of the Tata Sumo Grande MK II

Tata went back to the drawing board and redesigned the Sumo as the Sumo Grande, added a few goodies and brought it up to with the others. They also plunked in the 2.2 Dicor Engine to add icing to the cake. Not many Grandes were sold, and things looked grim for the product. Tata went back to its engineers, and this time they wanted to bang out all the kinks on the Grande. Thus, the Grande MK2 was born.

Launched in December 2009, we got hold of the MK2 GX – the fully loaded variant – this month, and here is how it behaved while it was with us.

Photo: Tata Sumo Grande MK II
Photo: Tata Sumo Grande MK II

At the first look, The Sumo Grande MK2 looks not very different from the original Grande. Move closer, and you notice the chrome insert grill upfront  that makes it look smarter than before.

Then you notice the new wing mirrors which now have LED turn indicators. Chrome strips on the doors (crash pattis) are also an addition. The 2.2 DICOR emblem on the front fenders,  in nice chrome font again looks good. Door handles are body-colored.

Overall, from the exterior, it is noticeable that the overall quality has improved on the MK2 with the fit and finish many grades higher than the earlier one.

Xylo, next to the Grande MK II

Step on the matte black running board and clamber inside, and the change is even more evident. Interiors are now beige in colour, with seats made of soft fabric. The driver’s seat is height-adjustable, with adequate lumbar support.

The dash is not as broad as the Mahindra Xylo but is practical. The Alpine MP3 player worked very well and comes standard on the GX variant. Wood inserts are welcome and yes, add to the car-like feel.

Apple iPod connection is available on the centre rack; we would have liked a USB connection as well. AC Knobs are rotary and the blower noise is not irritating even when on full blast. Glove box opens with 2 groves for cup/can holders, the gear knob is a la the Indica Vista, which is a welcome change.

Front Seats are comfortable with adequate support for the thigh and the back, seat belts with height adjust are again welcome. The plastic on the dash seems much better than the earlier Grande. Steering is again height adjustable and the size is typical SUV like. Middle row  accommodates 3 passengers and this row as to be folded to gain access to the 3rd row  where again 3 passengers can be seated. AC vents are available on the centre and the 3rd row and this helps in cooling the spacey Grande MK2  quickly.

Space was never a problem on the Sumo and the Grande yet again continues the trend, fold the centre and the 3rd row seats and you have a mini play ground in here.

Lets talk about the engine, the much famed 2.2 Dicor engine, which is from the Safari moves this Giant, with and capacity of 2179cc and an power output of 120PS and an healthy torque punch of 250Nm there’s not much that can stop this giant to conquer in  its stride. The 5speed gearbox is also from the Safari with gear ratios close to each other. Start the Dicor engine in the morning and its not much noisy even on the outside, while in the cabin the NVH levels are much better , no vibrations are felt, the gear knob doesn’t vibrate on neutral as it does on other Diesels at standstill. Rev the engine and it grunts, as told earlier the gear ratios are close together to help the MK2 attain speed faster and in an more sedate manner. When it comes to the engine there is a marked improvement on this one, if you remember the older Grande was much more nosier and used to have a typical whine. Short gearing helps in much better responsiveness and we touched a speed of 135kmph in no time. The MK2 touched 80kmph from 20kmph in roughly 15 seconds and that’s fast for a vehicle this size and weight, We managed to reach 100kmph in 20seconds. The gearbox is a bit rubbery and the feel is not top notch, not that we had wrong shifts but we would have liked a Verna like click-click gearbox. 140kmph is what the Speedo read and we didn’t go more than that. On the move the suspension feels good, it has been stiffened and reworked upon and Tata Motors Engineers should be given a pat on their backs for doing a wonderful job on it. We are told the MK2 has a thicker anti-roll bar and the springs are softer overall adding in to the perfect drive that the MK2 achieves. At high speeds the MK2 feels more relaxed and steady. Handling isn’t bad either and the smaller diameter steering helps here. We found the heavy car a lot relaxed even on rough roads and while cornering even in city roads. Tata is known to make very efficient engines and the Dicor too falls in the same category, What matters, for MUVs like the Grande MK2, is fuel efficiency and here she shines, returning 18.61kmpl when driven at 80-85kmph on the highways, and 10.8kmpl in the city with the air-con .

Summing it up – Yes, the 2.2-litre common-rail engine(DICOR) is refined, fuel efficient, there is enough torque at your disposal for both city and highway driving, all the nuances from the Grande are gone, space is very generous but we feel there is still a lot of scope for the Sumo Grande to improve on and make a benchmark in this segment .Build quality is better now and can be even better. Available in three trim line variants Gx, Ex and Lx with prices ranging between Rs 6.43 lakh- Rs 7.50 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) the Xylo and the Scorpio now very well have an able competitor in the form of the Tata Sumo Grande MK2.

What we liked and disliked.

Like
1. Overall build quality, fit finish.
2. Robust engine.
3. Improved drive and feel.
4. Improved gear ratios.
5. New Beige interiors
6. Very audible Alpine audio system.
7. Smaller steering wheel.
8. Vistas Gear knob.
9. Vast improved ride and handling.
10. Fuel Efficiency.

Dislike
1. No USB port.
2. Missing Bottle holders on the door pads.
3. A big panel gap between the dash and the glove box door.
4. Grande MK2 could have had better Wheel rims or alloys.
5. Captain seats on the centre row.
6. Music system remote for passengers sitting behind.
7. Doors don’t open at 90deg.
8. Under body spare wheel, can be strenuous to replace .
9. Dash very narrow.
10. Black footboard, the MK2 would have looked much better with either Chrome or brushed metal footboards.
11. Wipers take a fair amount of the windscreen, wrongly designed.

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