Review: Tata Sumo Gold

Posted by abhinav at 02:40 am on Tuesday October 01, 2013

It’s quite a hike getting up into the driver’s seat of this big utility vehicle from Tata, but once nestled in there, you surely feel like the king of the road. The Sumo is a tried-and-tested formula. And the fact that it’s still in production after all these years and is going strong means it has struck a chord with the Indian buyer.

This brings us to the Sumo Gold, Tata's latest spin on the soldiering Sumo. It does not look radically or even remotely different from the current crop of Sumos ferrying people around. There have been little exterior changes since the car entered production almost two decades back. The front bumper and the headlight get a few tweaks, and there is a liberal dosage of decals that run across the length of the vehicle with a Gold badge towards the end. Apart from this, not much has changed since we last saw the Sumo.

The 3-litre common-rail diesel is the same mill as found in older Sumos, but has been re-tuned for tighter emission norms. Tuning of the 2,956cc motor has unleashed another 14bhp and 27Nm of torque. The Sumo Gold now makes 83bhp and 250Nm of torque that is sent to the rear wheels via a 5-speed manual transmission.

More than outright power, you appreciate the extra torque that helps the Sumo move away swiftly from a green light. Don’t expect any sportscar performance though; the Sumo still takes 24.28sec to reach the 100kph mark.

On our highway runs, it easily cruised at 130kph, and the ride is fairly comfortable. But thanks to the boxy dimensions, the Sumo suffers from serious wind noise issues. Having said that, the Sumo will spend a lot of time shuttling between small towns rather than crossing triple-digit speeds on the highway.

As you would expect, roads are less than perfect or even non-existent in areas like these, and this is where the true talents of the Sumo are best noticed. The extra-high ground clearance means the underbody doesn't scrape over rough surfaces. The ride is impressive, and it goes over most bumps and bad roads without breaking a sweat.

The power steering feels light, and makes manoeuvring the big UV a breeze. The small turning radius also helps while taking a U-turn in tight spaces. The downside to the light steering is that it needs constant inputs from the driver. This works well in town, but can be cumbersome on the highway.

The insides of the Sumo Gold look frugal, and again, there is not much that has changed in terms of overall layout. There is fake wood covering the centre console, which also houses the AC controls. Below that is the Bluetooth audio system that we kept banging our left fist into every time we selected 1st, 3rd and 5th gear, thanks to it being placed dead close to the gearlever.

There are not many cubbyholes, though the glove box lid doubles up as a not-very-useable cup holder. The biggest change out here are the roof-mounted AC vents for the rear passenger that help cool the Sumo’s large passenger cabin fast.

The extra bit of ventilation is much-appreciated, as the Sumo can seat around eight people in relative comfort. We managed to squeeze in ten during one of our late nights in office. Thanks to the generous headroom, even after filling the Sumo right up to the brim with passengers, the cabin still does not feel confining in anyway.

So after all these years, the Sumo still has its basic mantra right in place. It is a plain, simple, no-nonsense people-mover that offers a lot of space. Over the years, it has gained a few basic luxury touches like the Bluetooth-enabled audio system, power windows and rear AC vents, which have kept this humble UV in the race. At a price of Rs 8.79 lakh (on-road, Mumbai), the Sumo is not exactly cheap, but for the utility it offers, we think it just about makes the cut.

The numbers
4cyl, 2956cc, 83bhp, 250Nm, 5M, RWD, 0-100kph: 24.28s, 30-50kph(3dr): 4.85s, 30-50kph (4th): 6.66s, 50-70kph (5th): 8.23s, Kpl: City: 9.1, Highway: 11.76, 130kph, Rs 8.79 lakh (on-road Mumbai)

The verdict

If you want a vehicle that can haul loads of people, but don’t have the budget for an SUV, then the Tata Sumo, with its newly-added features, is something worth considering.

TAGS// sumo, sumo gold, tata

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