So we get our hands on another Tata offing. After being pretty impressed with the Manza, expectations with the Grande were high. The previous SUMO Grande came with quite a few flaws and a couple of years later, Tata Motors has launched the all new Sumo Grande Mark II. Not much has changed looks-wise apart from the addition of chrome in quite a few places, which definitely adds to the visual appeal of the car. Tata has been quickly learning how to make better and more refined vehicles. I guess the acquisition of brands like Jaguar and Land Rover and their partnership with Fiat have a lot to do with it.
The Tata Sumo created quite a stir when it was launched in the early nineties. It was a hit with people with large families and as a Tourist Vehicle thanks to its large passenger carrying capacity and great mileage. The tourist vehicle tag was one of the reasons why the Private buyers began to shy away from it, apart from the fact that it now had better competition in form of the Qualis and then the Tavera and the design was getting quite outdated. Tata Motors did try with several variants and even the Victa, although a fresh new look was what Tata needed to revive Sales – and that is exactly what they did in 2008. However, the Sumo Grande was far from perfect and came with loads of niggles. More work was needed to get people attracted to the Sumo again and that’s when the Mark II stepped in.
I took the top of the line Tata Sumo Grande Mk II GX variant out to see how much of an improvement the New Grande Mark II actually is.
'HUGE' is the word that summarizes the Grande. The more you look at it, the more you tend to realize its gigantic proportions. A friend of mine, who owns a Scorpio himself, commented that the car was huge.
In terms of looks, I believe each will have their own say about the Mk II. The headlights are larger and higher than the older version and the bulging front has a very 'In your Face' look - like the Endeavor. The Tail lights also look very chic.
Taking a cue from the Manza, Tata has decided to add gallops of chrome on the Grande MK II. A new Chrome Lined Grill and Chrome between the tail lights look great. Apart from that it is pretty bland. The sides are straight and nothing much is happening there apart from the chrome insert on the side rub rails which provide some relief. The absolutely straight Windscreen and Boxy design translates into the car having a high co-efficient of drag. There aren't any sharp edges as such - the corners are all smoothened out into smooth curves.
Bumpers, Door Handles and OVRMs are all body coloured. The new Mark II has the turn indicators incorporated on the OVRMs. The Grande runs on large 235/70 tyres on 16” Steel rims which have been smartly designed to look like alloys. Large Wheel Arches make them look even cooler.
Also on the Grande, the spare wheel has been moved out from the rear and placed below the back end of the car, leaving the rear looking nice and uncluttered.
The Interiors of the Sumo Grande now come in a nice two tone shade of Black and Beige. Black is used in the areas which are constantly in contact with you - like the Floor, Gear lever and Steering Wheel - making it easy to keep the car clean, while the beige provides a sense of roominess to the cabin. Of course, even without that the cabin is huge and there is lots of space for everyone to feel comfortable.
Seat Fabrics are soft to the touch, look great, have extra foam and are also carried over as door trims. Front Seats are large and comfortable and have arm rests which prevent fatigue on long drives. Rear seats also have good leg room along with a pull down center arm rest.
Leg room in the 3rd Row too is not that bad, the only hitch being that the center area of the seats has a large bulge which makes seating a third adult at the back nearly impossible. But we did have a 7-seater version of the car and Tata has used a 2 + 3 + 2 seating arrangement which is different from the 2 + 2 + 3 that is seen on the Innova, where the middle row has bucket / captain seats.
Handles on the C Pillar make getting in and out of the 3rd Row easy. The driver seat of the Sumo is height adjustable and the front seats get a 3 position lumbar support, which works better than the 2 position seat on the Manza.
The Steering Wheel is now the same one which is used on the Indica Vista. Thankfully, Tata got rid of the large beige steering wheel found on the previous Grande.
The steering Column is Tilt Adjustable and the Grande also features height adjustable seat belts for added safety. Indicator Stalks are slightly away from the steering wheel and you need to reach out to operate them. Headlights have a 3 stage leveling function and the wipers have a 7 speed operating range. The rear window has a Electrical De-Mister and a rear Wash and Wipe. Front and rear fog lamps come standard on the GX model.
Soft touch plastics feel good to the touch. However, the Panel gaps are a real eyesore. There are loads of plastic parts which stick out and feel totally out of place and make you wonder if Tata had intended to have anything there!
The Faux Wood Centre console has an analogue clock which looks very cool along with a 6 Speaker Alpine CD Player with an I-pod connector which is provided behind the gear lever. However there is no provision for a USB / AUX in.
The door panel of the Sumo which houses the power window switch is also of faux wood. Inner Door handles have a silver finish to them though its quality is a bit iffy. Power Window buttons also are not of the highest standard and the front left window took much longer to go up or down (4.5 seconds to go up and 3.0 seconds to come down as compared to 2.5 seconds to go up and 2.0 seconds to come down for the front right window).
The Sumo’s Outside Mirrors are electrically adjustable and the Top end version has Theatre Dimming internal lights and a Follow-Me-Home headlight function. This means that headlights stay on for 1 minute in the night after the car has been switched off and the keys removed from the ignition.
Power windows too operate for 30 seconds after switching off the ignition, so incase you have forgotten to close the windows, you don't need to switch on the ignition again.
The underside of the Sumo’s doors has lights which makes getting in and out of the car in the dark pretty easy. The side steps too are a must as older people would find it nearly impossible to get into the car without them.
The Sumo Grande’s Air conditioner is nice and powerful and the 2nd and 3rd rows have their individual roof vents, allowing each passenger to control his zone.
The horn on the other hand is pathetic – no other word for it! No-one seems to hear it and no-one is in the mood to get out of the way. My old Karizma had a better horn and trucks on the highway used to move to the left, even when I sounded the horn from a distance. The case with the Grande is quite the opposite. Even pedestrians seem oblivious of the horn, only to scamper hurriedly out of the way when they see a vehicle of the Grande's size approaching – imagine a tiger with a cat’s meow!
Luggage space is good. The last row seats fold down and tumble forward to nearly triple the space. There is a provision to remove the third row of seats altogether. We loaded the rear with about 500 kgs. Inspite of that, over bad roads the car was well poised and on the open roads too the car didn't feel sluggish or heavy.
The Illuminated Key Ring and storage space above the Inner rear view mirror which can hold your sun glasses are some thoughtful features that have been put into the car.
The Sumo Grande has plenty of Safety features like a Strong Chassis, Side Impact Beams, Collapsible Steering, Tubeless Tyres, Engine Immobiliser, Fire Resistant Stain Proof Seats, Antiglare Internal Rear View Mirror and a Door open and Seat Belt not worn warning buzzer. However unlike the Manza, the doors don't automatically lock on reaching 20 kmph. No ABS or Airbags available on any variant though.
The huge tyres and 16” Rims keep the Grande surefooted on most of the roads. The car cruises at 140 kmph (which is also its top speed) effortlessly on the highways. Wind noise tends to get quite loud after about 130kmph. The lack of aerodynamics plays a big role in that. It felt as if the front left door was loose and not properly in place. Another disadvantage of its huge and flat sides is that the car tends to sway under strong crosswinds.
The Sumo Grande Mk II has the usual Wishbone and Coil Spring suspension up front, but for some reason Tata has decided to use the old fashion Parabolic Leaf Springs at the back, unlike the Safari which has Coil Springs all round. Thankfully it doesn't affect the ride quality too much, but Coil Springs would have made the ride quality even better.
Noise levels are low thanks to the excellent insulation provided by Tata. Vibrations in the Cabin, the Gear Level and at the Steering Wheel are almost negligible (a big improvement over the last generation Grande).
Bad roads are taken care of with ease and you don't really feel like you are getting thrown around too badly. Tata has used a stiffer suspension and bigger anti-roll bars, which do their job quite well. Unlike the Scorpio and the Xylo where you get thrown left or right even whilst switching lanes, Body roll in the Grande is not too bad. The car holds its line around long sweeping corners. All this said, there is no feel from the steering wheel. There is a lot of play and using it feels vague and takes a little getting used to.
City driving takes some more getting used to due to the Grande's size, the 5.25 m turning radius not making things any easier. Reversing too gets a bit difficult (unless you know how to use your mirrors well) and parking sensors should be made a standard fitting. You park the car thinking you've nearly touched the car behind, just to get down and see that there's a good couple of feet still to go.
To say the braking leaves a lot to be desired would be an understatement. The front end of the car suddenly dips and the rear end gets all loose footed and wobbly. Brake any harder and the wheels all lock up. This is one car in which you don't want to get into a situation where you need to slow down quickly. An ABS model is something Tata needs to add to their line up quickly.
The Sumo Grande is powered by a 2.2L DICOR engine that also does duty in the Tata Safari, though in a slightly detuned state. The powerplant produces 120PS @ 4000 RPM along with 250 NM of Torque between 1500-3000 RPM. Turbo Lag is evident below 2000 RPM after which it gets pretty peppy. Driving through traffic in a single lane road, overtaking gets a little difficult and you need to keep the engine revving above 2000 RPM. Else, you can floor the throttle all the way yet you don't seem to be gaining any momentum.
The transmission is pretty good and though the lever has long throws, it is pretty precise. The clutch is hard and needs to be pressed all the way for the gears to engage. Another thing is that the clutch is positioned quite far away from the brake pedal which takes a little getting used to. No dead pedal provided either.
The Sumo was not designed to break any speed records, but it does feel quite fun to drive. It is quicker than its predecessor thanks to the lower gear ratios and wider torque spread that have increased city drivability and mileage too. The Grande takes about 11 seconds to get to 60 kmph and just over 19 seconds to 100 kmph.
Economy wise the Grande MK II, returned a mileage of a little over 10 kmpl in the city (I guess getting stuck in crawling traffic for over an hour had a major role to play in the lower mileage figure). On the highways, it gave a little over 18 kmpl and the total fuel consumption over our covered distance of 726 kms was 60 litres which gives a total average of 12.1 kmpl. Considering that the Grande has a 65 litre fuel tank, it has a full tank range of around 780 kms which is excellent.
|Model||Grande Sumo Mark II|
|Power (PS @ RPM)||120PS@4000 RPM|
|Torque (NM @ RPM)||250 NM@1500-3000 RPM|
|Gearbox||5 Speed synchromesh with overdrive.|
|Tyres||235/70 R 16|
|Turning radius||5.25 M|
|Fuel tank capacity||65 Liters|
|Seating||7&8 str FF||7&8 str SF||7&9 Str SF|
|3 Position Lumbar support for Front seats||Yes||No||No|
|Side Facing foldable seats||No||For SF only||Yes|
|Side impact bars||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Tiltable and collapsible steering||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Central Console and Switches Finish||Faux Wood||Faux Wood||Dark Gold|
|Outside Door Handles||Body Colour||Body Colour||Black|
|Bumpers||Body Colour||Body Colour||Unpainted|
|Puddle Lamps on Doors||All Doors||All Doors||All Doors|
Competition All Specs
Sumo Grande MK II
|Power (PS @ RPM)||120@ 4000||114@ 3800||102@ 3600|
|Torque (NM @ RPM)||250@ 1500||235@ 1800||200@ 1400|
|Tyres||235/70 R16||215/75 R15||205/65 R15|
|Front Fog Lamps||Yes||Yes||No|
|Rear Fog Lamps||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Rear Wash and Wipe||Yes||Yes||No|
|Middle Row Bucket Seats||No||No||Yes|
The Grande MK II comes with a standard 2 year / 75,000 kms warranty which can be extended to 4 years and 1,50,000 KMs. It is packed with features and is priced at Rs.6,38,797/- for the LX, Rs.6,78,712/- for the EX and Rs.7,46,473/- (all prices Ex Showroom, Pune) for the top of the line GX version which makes it good Value for Money.
The Grande MK II comes in 5 shades of Beige, Gold, Grey, Silver, White, Black and Red and has a seating option of 7 or 8 seats along with having the option of having the rear seat front or side facing.
The Tata Sumo Grande MK II is quite a head turner and has people regularly coming up and asking if this was the latest Sumo or to enquire about how good the car really is.
In my opinion the car looks great and has the right ingredients to attract the Private Buyers too. It is more refined, feature rich and a much better and improved product over the previous versions and I don't see any reasons why it should not sell in numbers.