Suzuki Grand Vitara Rally-Spec: Alter Ego

Soon enough, strapped in tight, I inspect the spartan interior. Anything to do with comfort has been removed. The row behind the driver is gone, replaced by two spare tyres and a shovel. The rear doors, rear hatch and hood are made of fiberglass to reduce the Vitara’s weight – this has made it lighter by 210 kilos.

Weight loss notwithstanding, the Delhi heat, at a steady 40 Celsius, is grilling me to a medium rare as the service engineer, oblivious to my discomfort, takes me through the list of features, including electrically operated wing mirrors, and power windows for the driver and front passenger that were fortunately not lost in transition.

This takes my optimism up a few notches, and I gather the courage to ask him with a sheepish smile, “Does this thing have air-conditioning?” He mechanically points to the roof scoop above my head and indicates with a nod that this will do for all my ventilation needs.