Dilip Chhabria is India’s best-known car designer by a county mile. So in 2015, when he announced that he was going to build the Avanti sportscar, India naturally seemed rather pleased. Now the British, sports car connoisseurs that they are, have also noticed that DC has been making something interesting to look at and drive. So Jack Rix, the deputy editor and Rowan Horncastle, the Editor-at-large from the BBC Top Gear (yes, the one that has a show) magazine came to India to drive Dilip Chhabria’s Avanti. Here’s what the British had to say about it.
The response to the Avanti by the British magazine editors was a mixed one. While the build quality was heavily criticised, and the Avanti’s design evoked a mixed response from the British, the ride quality was described as SUV-like. So let’s break down Top Gear’s review of Dilip Chhabria’s DC Avanti sportscar.
The response to the design of the Avanti is a bit of a mixed bag. The Brits find the styling weird but appreciate the fact that it draws attention to itself wherever it goes.
Here’s what Jack Rix had to say about the Avanti’s design in his review –
I know the rear looks like it’s been parked up against a radiator (and thus melted), the front end has a fish-like quality and the ride height is more SUV than supercar (all will be explained), but for sheer traffic-stopping drama it does the job, and then some. ‘Our’ car was fitted with the optional aero kit (complete with fixed rear wing that does wonders for lifting the saggy bottom) and painted in Veyron Super Sport black and orange. As the gentleman who walked into the middle of the road, pointed at us, and screamed “BUGATTI!”, helpfully pointed out.
The Avanti’s ability to draw in a crowd was seen first hand by the duo when Rix decided to experience driving around in Pune’s Tulsi Bagh market. Rix writes,
We’ve arrived at the market. Rowan is sprinting to the top floor of a multi-story car park for a bird’s eye view, and I’m being engulfed by a crowd of locals keen to see which Bollywood superstar is running low on courgettes.
Thankfully, for the British and the rest of the world, Dilip Chhabria launched the TCA sports car at the Auto Expo earlier this year, which has toned down quite a lot of the outlandish design of the Avanti into a much more sport-looking package, with more power on tap.
The Top Gear review then goes to state that space inside the Avanti is at a premium thanks to the high ride height (needed for India’s roads) and low roof height. However, describing the cramped space, saw the well-defined sense of humour of the Brits come to the forefront.
The review reads,
Ground clearance has also been prioritised… at a price. At five foot nine inches I am not a tall man and yet my hair is brushing the headlining. If you spot a tall person with a small, polished bald patch right on the top of their head, chances are they drive an Avanti. That’s the problem with raising the ride height to 170 mm (just 30 mm less than a Jaguar E-Pace SUV), but keeping the overall height to 1200 mm (just 30 mm taller than a Lamborghini Huracán).
If there was one thing the Brits absolutely hated about the Avanti, it was the build quality. Rix compared it to the shoddy build quality you found on Korean hatchbacks sold in the UK in the 90s stating,
You’ll like it, so long as you’re a fan of late nineties Korean hatchbacks. The build quality is flimsy in places, atrocious in others – notably the door handles, cut from the world’s thinnest gauge plastic, the spindly steering wheel and the Renault-sourced six-speed manual’s oddly long gear lever, which is a shame because the shift quality isn’t bad at all. The seats are covered in leather of dubious origin, with more shiny coloured stripes stitched on top.
The way the Avanti drove once again elicited a mixed response from the Top Gear editor. Rix praised its ability to handle the worst of bumps, wondering if it could be used for the Dakar Rally as he drives it to Lavasa and trying his best to avoid the potholes that dot State Highway 57.
Rix states, “In the DC Avanti though, we plough on, without so much as scraping the chin on the floor. Through the worst of it, our speed picks up, and immediately we hit a concrete speed bump at 50mph and leave the road surface as my head ricochets off the roof. But the Avanti just shrugs it off and keeps on trucking. Honestly, swap the Pirelli P-Zeros and 20-inch rims for a set of Goodyear Wranglers, and you could take on the Dakar in this thing. Maybe.”
However, the way Avanti drove when pushed into a corner was something the Brits found terrifying as Rix writes in his review,
We’re climbing now, the road and views improving in direct proportion, and the car revealing a rush of new and disturbing personality traits. It certainly doesn’t brim with feedback and energy, it’s far more languid than that. There’s nothing wrong with the steering ratio, but the way it offers the same minimal resistance even as you add lock is… odd. As a result, you tend to add too much and lurch into corners causing the car to roll a lot initially, before it settles on its outside springs. You can unstick the rear tyres with a clumsy boot and a bung, but with body control so unpredictable, it’s probably wise to clear the area before doing so.
While not quite impressed about the Avanti’s design and its driveability himself, Rix understands what the Avanti stands for when he delivers the verdict stating,
But what did we expect? Final-tenth driving dynamics aren’t what this car is even remotely about. It’s about combining spirited performance with an affordable price tag and genuinely heroic looks. I ponder this as we return to the city and creep along as the world swarms around us, missing by millimetres, grinning as they go.
His final words though may just cause Dilip Chhabria to start pushing the DC TCA sportscar from the Auto Expo onto the world stage at the earliest. The final sentence of the review read,
Address the rather glaring styling and quality issues and who knows – it could be the perfect antidote to the UK’s hastily declining roads.