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Tata Sumo Detailed Expert Review - March 01, 2013

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Introduction

Mar 01, 2013 : Expert Review By

Tata Sumo Gold Review : The Dark Horse

Strictly going by the definition of the dark horse, it is a competitor or a candidate whose win is not certain but then it has the ability and the potential to challenge the odds and stand strong against its rivals. Back in the day in 1994, when India was just maturing to the concept of MUVS and Mahindra was the only option, Tata Motors launched the Sumo.

Tata Sumo Expert Review, Sumo Road Test - 116616 | CarTrade

The Sumo which got its name after the revolutionary Mr. Sumant Moolgaonkar (Su Mo) was the first MUV and was based on a rugged platform. Before the Sumo, it was only Mahindra to offer UVs in India and there was no fresh approach but them with the Sumo, Tata Motors set a new benchmark and the Sumo did sales of 1 lakh units in 3 years from its launch.

Cutting from the merry flashback, the Sumo could not sustain its reputation as Mahindra squelched its image with their present segment leader Bolero. Tata Motors did upgrade the Sumo but then sadly all the updates failed to garner any support from the consumers. This however does not mark the end for the segment creator as the Indian UV major has launched the Sumo Gold which has all that it takes to regain lost grounds.

Will the Tata Sumo Gold be the Dark Horse and eventually snatch away the throne from the erstwhile market leader?

Exterior

The Tata Sumo is a total no nonsense looking vehicle with no flowing lines. It looks like it was made in a gym with no extra flab and fat anywhere. In fact, the ruggedness of the vehicle is what appeals me the most. With its G Wagon inspired design, this vehicle looks very raw.

Straights and Squares is what one sees in the front. The headlight design has been revamped and so is the bumper line. Also the radiator grille sports a new look. The round headlamps paired with the strong fog lamp look decent. Interestingly, only GOLD is written on the chrome strip above the radiator grille. The silhouette too does not have any fluid but instead has strong muscle and character. Body graphics on the side try to hide the otherwise dated side profile. It has a tall boy design in SUVs as the roofline goes on climbing from the A Pillar to the rear. This also ensures a lot of headroom for the passengers.

Also seen on the side profile are the large windows which mean a large glasshouse. There is a side step provided for access in the cabin as the vehicle is considerably tall this step is handy and easy. The doors can have little more metal to make it feel stronger as the ones presently feel too light. The rear profile of the Sumo does not have anything spectacular to write about. Vertical stuck tail lamps occupy a large portion. The spare wheel had been ditched long back and instead there are subtle body graphics again. There is also a centrally placed step case for the rear passengers. Both the step cases are very strong indeed.

So do I like the way this car (Yes, I called it a car) looks?. Yes Indeed, In fact I got very fond of it the more I saw it. The raw brute appeal of Sumo is what appeals me the most. The very feeling that it’s not me but you who should be scared before ramming into me is superb. The street appeal of the Sumo is good.

 

Interior

So this is a basic SUV and the company is clear about it as well. The interiors are little away from being called feature rich. The merit of it is the cabin space. There are oodles of room inside so no matter your body built a passenger of possibly any shape, size and dimension can easily squeeze in.

The front dashboard is bare basic and tall in construction. The seats are not very comfortable but then still manage to hold the passengers safely. There is a cushion support arrangement as well. Even for the second row passengers the cabin is very spacious and the same feeling remains for the third row occupants.

Instrument panel has the speedometer and the tachometer also it displays the trip distance. On the central panel lies the AC controls and the music system. The AC is very effective and does not take long to cool the cabin. Build quality seems weak and also the switch gear quality is not upto the mark. This is an area in which the company should do some heavy improvement for example the gear stick seems to have its own mind and keeps moving continuously like a loose stick. The Nano which is the entry level Tata car has a better and firm gear stick then why not a vehicle which costs nearly double the hatch to have the same feel.

Another big letdown is the music system. Not that I was expecting a Rockford Fosgate system in this MUV but then the music quality is too basic as the only space for output is the dashboard mounted speakers which also lack good quality finish. The music quality was a big low as it sounded like an aftermarket arrangement. Obviously, one will throw an argument that no one expects a superb music system in such type of a vehicle but then the music system need not be superb but decent.

Overall interiors are decent but then need some improvement which can really help the Sumo get the needed push it requires in the Indian market.

 

Performance

The BS4 variant that we drove is powered by a 2956cc CR4 engine. It produces a power output of 85PS at 3000 rpm and a torque of 250Nm at 1000 to 2000 rpm. It is equipped with a G-76-5/4.1 gearbox which is claimed to be a smooth box and does not repeat the hassles of the earlier unit.

The driver seats at a very tall position and enjoys a wide and superb view of the street. The bare basic but grand on street appeal of the Sumo is the fun element. The engine may not sound smooth at the beginning but then as the revs go higher the 3L beast matures and gets subtle. It offers enough pull to reach speeds of 120Km/h. After that the vehicle gets very unstable and evidently cause of its tall design character.

It has a small turning radius of 5M which is of great help. So even though Mr.Chidambaram thinks SUVs take lot of space and thus he decided to make them expensive in the 2013 Union Budget but the Sumo Gold maneuvers very easily through the tight and short turns with its power steering. The First gear travel is short but then after 2nd gear it manages to sail smoothly. The front disc and rear drum brakes are very effective. They may not have the finesse of an ABS but then do manage to get the MUV to a standstill quickly.

The body roll is tremendous and on the twisties we actually had the fear of the vehicle toppling. In Safety aspect, its just the seatbelts and side intrusion beams on all doors to protect you from the aftermath of an impact.

The Suspension setup is also not too comfortable and will time and again remind you that the vehicle comes from the same company which manufactures truck. The NVH levels also are not low and are considerably high. There are a series of noises and sound one can hear inside the cabin.

One of the highs of the Sumo Gold is the CR4 engine which offers superb torque. Till 2200 rpm, the engine seems fully charged up and is very confident on take on any terrain thrown to it. Even while driving on off road terrain, the engine performed very well. So even though the suspensions could not work in tandem, the engine did its best to keep us afloat on all types of terrain. The engine also returned a best mileage of 13 kmpl which is impressive.

 

Specifications
Technical Specifications
 Make Tata
 Model Sumo Gold
Variant GX
Engine Type 3.0 CR4
Power in PS/RPM 62/3000
Torque in Nm/RPM 250/1600-2000
Transmission 5/MT
Ground Clearance 190mm
Tyre Rating 215/75 R15
Turning  Radius 5M
Dimensions in MM
Length 4258
Width 1700
Height 1925
Wheel Base 2425
Fuel Tank  65L
Tata Sumo Competitors
Competition Specifications
Specifications
Tata
Sumo Gold
Mahindra
Bolero
ICML
Rhino
Variant GX S LX LD
Price Ex-showroom Mumbai in Rs. 722676 678845 725727
Engine Type 3.0 CR4 M2DiCR CRDFI
Engine CC 2956 2523 1994
Power in PS/RPM 62/3000 46/3200 120/4000
Torque in Nm/RPM 250/1600-2000 195/1400-22000 285/1750-2500
Transmission 5/MT 5/MT 5/MT
Ground Clearance 190mm 180mm 170mm
Tyre Rating 215/75 R15 215/75 R15 205/65 R15
Turning  Radius 5M 5.8M 5M
Dimensions in MM
Length 4258 4107 4400
Width 1700 1775 1750
Height 1925 1880 1885
Wheel Base 2425 2680 2541
Engine Immobiliser Yes Yes Yes
CD MP3 With AUX input Yes Yes Yes
Central Locking Yes Yes Yes
Keyless Entry Yes Yes Yes
Door Ajar Warning Yes Yes Yes
Front and Rear Fog Lamps Yes Yes Yes
Exterior Body Graphics Yes Yes Yes
Rear Wiper and De fogger Yes Yes Yes
Seating Option 7 &9 7 & 9 7 9
Conclusion

Is the Tata Sumo Gold worth a recommend?. There is a mixed reaction we had after the review. Understandably, this one is a clean MUV with lot of potential. Looks nice and rugged. This one will appeal to the enthusiastic crowd who want a bare minimum off roading vehicle which can take on anything. A vehicle in which you don’t have to be too careful while driving and instead enjoy its crude and brute appeal.

The Tata Sumo Gold is priced at Rs. 689616 (GX variant Ex-Showroom Thane). With the same amount of money, I can also get a Mahindra Quanto which is small but very efficient and has a better fit and finish and for enthusiastic feel, I can opt for the Mahindra Thar with a 4x4 option. But what the Sumo offers that the other 2 don’t is the space inside also the Sumo Gold has a bigger engine.

If Tata Motors does improve the Sumo with some improvements in the interiors, this can really prove to be the Dark Horse and surprise all with its stellar side. On a wild thought, how about an Army Edition of the Sumo done in Green Matte sporting all the necessary road gear or perhaps a 5.0L Supercharged Petrol engine in the Sumo. Totally bizarre??

 

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