Honda’s Drive to Discover (D2D) has been one of the most interesting annual events where journalists drive to new places making use of Honda’s line-up of cars. This year, the 11th edition of Honda D2D explored the beautiful Western Ghats covered in beautiful monsoon lush. Our chariots this year include Honda’s sedan line-up of 5th Generation Honda City, Honda City e:HEV and the Honda Amaze. While the market is drooling over SUVs, this D2D sends a message loud and clear – “Sedans are not dead.” So with the theme of “Sedan And Stunning”, here is what we discovered in three days.
Bangalore to Madikeri
Honda City e:HEV
The first car that we got was the newest member of Honda India’s family – the City e:HEV commonly known as the City Hybrid. As we whisked the keys to the beautiful Radiant Red Honda City e:HEV for the destination ahead, we checked the route on the 7.0-inch infotainment system after connecting it with the phone and we were off through the Silicon Valley of India.
While we did not get to see the worst of the infamous Bengaluru traffic situations, we did get a taste of it. Navigating through start-stop traffic, the Honda City e:HEV proved to be the perfect car. Inching ahead silently, I changed the brake regeneration level to the highest. This ensured that I was doing a single pedal driving through the traffic most of the time.
After getting out of the congested roads, we hit the open highways but soon stopped for a quick lunch break that was full of local dishes. Filling our bellies, we started again to our destination in Madikeri. Since we were just getting warmed up on the highways with the City e:HEV, we decided to take a longer route to our destination.
Our route to Madikeri went through Hassan and on the way, we spotted the Gorur Hemavathi Reservoir, which is one of the largest reservoirs in India. With the eco-friendly Honda City e:HEV, we took a dirt track fully aware of Honda City e:HEV’s 165mm ground clearance. Alas, the car never kissed the ground and we discovered the massive water reservoir and spent some time there soaking in the vastness.
As the sun was setting, we rushed towards our destination on open highways. That’s when the Honda City e:HEV’s Level-2 ADAS came into working. Constantly doing three-digit figures on the highways was not a problem at all with the autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control and best of all in my opinion, Lane-Keep Assist or LKA. The LKA works by moving the steering in the direction of the lane and it is quite helpful during long drives.
Doing high-speed runs on the City hybrid was fun. Especially with the boost from the electric motor and with disc brakes on all four wheels, we definitely had some extra confidence.
After the sunset, the City’s high-beam assistance helped a lot on the twisties of Madikeri. The auto high-beam lamps automatically switch to low-beam when it senses another vehicle in the opposite direction. Finally, we had to go through the final dirt road that led to our night destination and the full-LED set-up definitely lit the road more than we expected but no complaints here. Our drive of more than 300 km concluded with fast driving and more than 21 km/l on the display.
Madikeri To Wayanad
Honda Amaze 1.2 petrol CVT
Madikeri to Wayanad is only 125 km but the route is through and through ghat sections and we had a plan to spot Tigers at the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. We started our drive in the Honda Amaze petrol CVT. Tackling the narrow lanes of Madikeri, which is home to one of India’s largest coffee estates was fun.
There were multiple routes from our stay to Wayanad so we chose the longest one again. Driving the Honda Amaze CVT can be fun if you use the paddle shifters correctly and keep the engine in the powerband. We did that and loved the drive through scenic Western ghats of the southern part of India. Upon entering Kerala, the roads narrowed further but the perfect size of Amaze did not let us feel the shrinking space.
We reached our lunch spot to taste some of the best local dishes including seafood. With a belly full of delicacies, we reached the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and started the jungle safari. Our guide told us not to expect much as animal spotting is rare in the evening when the crowd rises. It is only the early birds that have a higher chance of seeing any kind of animal, especially the tiger.
Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed the smooth roads around the sanctuary and then went to our night destination, which was only a few kilometres away. Even though the drive was short, we loved how the Honda Amaze performed on the narrow roads. The indicated fuel efficiency of the Amaze after a drive of around 143 km was around 11.7 km/l.
Wayanad to Kochi
Honda City diesel
Honda came a bit late to the diesel segment but the City diesel sure is a great car to drive. On the last day, we only needed to cover about 270 km. That may not sound but in Kerala, where the roads were never widened because of space constraints and the ever-growing number of cars made the journey a good 8-9 hour drive.
The Honda City diesel was a perfect choice for the day, especially with good low-end torque and short throw gears, you can survive much better on such highly crowded two-lane roads. Kerala is like a big city and there are really no empty stretches.
Soon after we left for Wayanad, we went through coffee estates, which were much smaller in size. The Honda City diesel climbed up the ghats without any fuss. Honda is one of the manufacturers that offer top-level handling and driving through the ghats ensured that we get the taste of it. Nonetheless, we soon hit the plains and the pain of overtaking started. There is not much space on the roads and people really drive leisurely in this state. Soon we went on an overtaking spree and realised that the City diesel is quite agile. It can change directions quickly and we started to love these overtakes.
After a quick refuel session for ourselves with seafood, we started towards Kochi again. We took the coastal road just to get a glimpse of the Arabian Sea. We did get that and finally reached our destination quite late at night. Even with such a painful drive, we did not feel much discomfort in the Honda City diesel. Japanese really know how to design the car and that day Honda’s Man Maximum and Machine Minimum philosophy showed us how comfortable the City can be. End of the day, even with fast overtakes, the Honda City diesel returned a maximum fuel efficiency of around 19.5 km/l.
Honda Cars India has been around in India for over 25 years. While the Japanese giant is not in the top-ranking position at the moment, we might get to see a change of fortune with the arrival of a brand-new car. Yes, Honda is planning to bring a mid-size SUV to the Indian market. It will take on the likes of Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos and the newly launched Maruti Suzuki Grand Vitara and Toyota Urban Cruiser Hyryder.