Noted US based publication Road & Track recently published a story on coolest slow cars. Well, they have a nice selection of automotive greats there (not in terms of sheer speed, by any means), but here we look at the Indian cars that qualify for the same list.
Ford Figo petrol
The Figo hatchback might be new, but the regular petrol engine is not. Okay, it has received variable valve timing and makes about 20 PS more than what the previous unit made, but it’s still slow. The lack of torque is evident and to make progress, you need to work it considerably hard. To make matters worse, unlike the previous version, the new Figo doesn’t feel as connected, either, so you don’t derive as much fun driving it hard. How much does that hurt its cool quotient? Zilch. The new design, a hugely improved cabin, and what’s still one of the better chassis setups make the Figo a pretty cool car. The Aston Martin-like trapezoidal grille and a well proportioned design adds to it.
Fiat Punto Evo
The Punto Evo is surely a looker, even in the facelifted avatar, it manages to make its way to the heart, even though the design seems to have lost some of the simplicity of the original. However the silhouette hasn’t yet changed and in terms of looks alone, if there’s one car in the segment that’s actually beautiful, it has to be Punto. But is it fast? No. Leave the Abarth aside and the Punto is left with the usual powertrain choices: 1.2-litre petrol, 1.4-litre petrol, and 1.3-litre diesel. The base 1.2-litre petrol engine is neither potent nor economical to run. The 1.4-litre petrol is much better but can be described as lukewarm at best. And the 1.3-litre diesel might be torquier than the two, but even in the more powerful 90 hp avatar, it fails to feel quick. Blame it on the vehicle’s weight or the rubbery gearbox, the Punto is slow, but as cool as it can get.
Much like the Fiat Punto, the Linea sedan follows the same recipe of being slow but cool. In terms of dynamics, it’s hard to fault either of the two, but both of them lack straight line pace. The Linea too isn’t the same vehicle as it was when launched. It underwent a major upgrade, which has given it a better cabin (in terms of fit and finish too) but continues with what was almost perfect in the first place: a brilliant ride and handling setup and great looks. While an Abarth-powered Linea could be making an India arrival soon, the vehicle is decently quick even in its T-Jet avatar. But apart from that, it’s not something that you would call fast.
(Source) Possibly the coolest car on the list, the Gypsy is still being used by the Armed Forces, thanks to its lightweight construction and its ability to handle off-roads without breaking a sweat. Okay, a torquey engine would have certainly made life easier but the fact that the Gypsy still exists, despite it being old is a testament in itself. You can of course modify one to go faster but in stock form the Gypsy is pretty slow. It can turn out to be very boring to drive on tarmac. But leave that and you’ll be in for a surprise.
(Source) The Bolero seems to be the right product for the masses. It’s not very expensive, can handle bad roads with ease, and can be completely transformed into a better-looking vehicle if the pocket permits. What makes it cooler is its simple styling, resemblance to highly revered vehicles like the G-Wagen and the fact that you won’t have to break the bank to modify it. Is it quick? No. First, it’s an MUV, so outright pace is lowest on the priority list, and less said about the on-road dynamics the better.
Sharing its roots with the G-Wagen and with a Merc-licensed engine under the bonnet, the Gurkha is a force to reckon with, when tackling bad terrain. The low-volume player only has the Thar as its rival, and even outshines that in a few aspects. But speed is certainly not one of them. The 2.6-litre engine is a boon mated to the 4WD system and the differential locks at both axles – this all makes getting out of tricky situations easier than it sounds. But sadly if you’re looking for something to enjoy on the road, the Gurkha isn’t quite there yet. Like most other conventional SUVs, it has less than perfect vehicle dynamic, and it lacks pace too. Horses for courses, but still.
With a larger, more powerful engine, the Thar CRDe has a good amount of useable power. It handles off-roading well and can cruise at highway speeds without terrorising the passengers. The Thar DI on the other hand isn’t as capable. The engine isn’t that powerful and while it shares the design and most internals other than the engine with the Thar CRDe, it just isn’t quick. But that doesn’t mean it’s not cool. The classic Jeep design is a sure shot way of looking cool and the Thar (irrespective of the variant you choose) pulls it off quite well.
(Source) Lifestyle pickups haven’t worked as well in India owing to their commercial vehicle image and reduced practicality (as long as you aren’t carrying anything in the loading bay at all times). The Xenon might be poster-material (or wallpaper material, if you’re the digital kind) but it is not fast. The 2.2-litre version can manage good pace but the other 3-litre engine variant is not the right option if you’re looking for speed-related thrills. The vehicle can be modified to look great, which adds individuality to it as well. Also read: Crazy modified pickup trucks
Updated in 2014 there’s no slowing down the Scorpio in terms of coolness. After proving itself in the market, the Scorpio also became the market’s favourite, and even managed to beat the Safari on more than one occasions. But it’s not something that you would want to enjoy on-road driving in, mainly because of the dynamics and also the engine, especially in the base S2 trim. The higher versions do get a more powerful 2.2-litre engine which solves the issue but still the progress one makes isn’t massive in that either – remember we’re talking about an SUV that tips the scales at about 2.5 tonnes.
Does the Safari beat the Scorpio in coolness? Yes, it does to a large extent, and the cult image is one of Safari’s strong points. It came out in a time when not a lot of manufacturers had the courage to bring out something like it, and in its latest avatar, it is one of the strongest products in the segment. And no less cool than the original, either. Is it fast? No. While the Storme 400 might boast a sub 13-second time for 0-100 kmph, the way the Safari drives can be, in no way, justified as fast. It is heavy and anyone with a good memory can recall how badly the pre Dicor engines had to be worked, to just set the mammoth rolling. Also read: How the new Tata Safari outshines the Scorpio, the XUV, and even the Fortuner