The suv came first, then the vacations. This was the perfect combination for making a crazy plan. Planning:
Originally I had planned for ladakh trip via manali. The dreams were shattered as the Manali-leh route was not open. The trip dates were basically from 2nd may to 20th may 2013. So after much research kaza was finalised. Just to give a brief introduction, Kaza is a small town in himachal pradesh that lies in spiti and lahoul valley. It is also the coldest place in India with temperatures going down till -30 degrees. This whole region basically comes under tribal belt and is also known as little Tibet as the landscape is similar. People advised me from doing this circuit as it is prone to landslides and the roads are quite narrow and dangerous. Few of my cousins in Delhi even went to the extent of telling me that Leh would be much safer than Kaza. But I had made up my mind that come whatmay this trip had to be done. Now comes the passenger list
5. My 9 months old son
6. My 5 year old daughter
7. My 10 year old nephew
Suddenly I realized that I would be the only driver for this nearly 6000 km drive from Hyderabad and back. So the planning started. The route finalized was hyd-jabalpur-agra-chandhigarh-shimla-recong peo-kalpa-kaza (kibber and komic) and back via chandhigarh-jaipur-indore-hyd.
This way I could cover both Agra and Jaipur as the ladies wanted to see Tajmahal and shop at Jaipur. Now the biggest worry for me was not driving alone with kids and family but the luggage. The luggage was increasing by the day and at the end it weighed nearly 150 kgs (problem with going with the lady gang). The total weight of both passengers came to about 525 kgs. Well since nothing could be done regarding the luggage I gave up and prayed.
Further preparation was done in the form of me purchasing 2500 kg rated towrope and hooks, air compressor, emergency lamps, spare batteries, etc etc. Now comes the SUV:
I have been using Tata Safari dicor 3.0 ltr for the past 6 years and had driven it for nearly a lakh kilometer. It was the right time for an upgrade. After doing a lot of research following options were finalized as my budget was around 20 lakhs
1. Tata Safari storm
2. Xuv 5oo w8
3. Ford endeavour
5. Toyota fortuner
I was not too interested in Safari as the storm was basically a 5 seater so that was ruled out. Moreover it didn’t offer anything new as compared to the old safari (here I mean the feel not the technology)
Xuv5oo was definitely tempting as it is a fantastic vfm
proposition. But the problem was that it is an monocoque chassis. Moreover the suspension setup is mcpherson struts as against double wishbone suspension used in proper suvs.
Ford endeavour was also tempting but it was too basic and the 2.5lts 4x2 version was costing nearly 22 lakhs on road in Hyderabad. I felt is was too bare boned a suv with uncomfortable seating position both front and in the middle row for me to shell out 22 lakhs.
Yeti was good but then again it is quite small so it was ruled out too.
Toyota fortuner ticked most of my requirements but even the base 4x2 version was costing me about 26 lakhs here in Hyderabad.
Finally xuv5oo was finalized. The day we had gone to book, the sales persons in charge responsible for booking was not there so we were told to wait. While we were waiting we saw rexton rx7 and just for the heck of it we asked for a test drive. We went for a very short test drive and man we were so impressed with it that we booked the manual version. So it was SSANGYONG REXTON RX5
The basis of this choice was simple as we were getting a true blue 4x4 suv for about 21.5 lakhs. This is actually about 4 lakhs cheaper than the 4x2 fortuner. It made a lot of sense as rexton basically has underpinnings of Merc m class right from chassis design, suspensions and engine. Moreover Rexton has a 5 cylinder engine. Positives of rexton rx-5
1. Proper body on frame tough suv. Did some research in international forums where it is known as a workhorse. Some owners have reported running rexton for over 5-6 lakhs miles without engine overhaul. It is known for its towing capabilities.
2. 5 cylinder merc engine.
3. Proper 4 low gear which rexton rx7 doesn’t have
4. The suv is basically is in 4h mode by default. During normal running only the rear wheels are engaged. Once the suv deducts slippage in the front wheels, torque is sent to the front wheels. This system is known as torque on demand. It is basically best of both the worlds as the suv is basically 2 wheeled drive and becomes all wheel drive when situation arises.
5. 4 low can be engaged which makes the suv a proper 4 x 4. The ration I think is 1:2.48 if I am not mistaken. In this mode the suv turns into a different animal and can start from still in 3rd gear.
6. The engine is super refined and silent. Sometimes I feel I am driving a petrol suv.
7. Gearshifts are also very smooth and slots in position very precisely.
8. Ride quality in city and potholes is heavenly as the suspension setup in quite soft. You wont feel undulation in roads at all. It glides over potholes and speed breakers.
9. There is turbo lag till 1800 rpm but after that the suv just rockets itself ahead. During the whole trip I didn’t feel wanting for more power. Highest speed which I have achieved is on Agra-Delhi expressway which was 170 kms fully loaded. I could have easily gone more as there was still enough grunt left in the engine but decided not to for obvious reasons.
10. As far as handling is concerned is does sways and rolls a bit but is it never discomforting. I believe that in highway a constant speed of 120 kmph is more than enough for any suv, for anything more sedans should be used.
11. As far as fuel economy is concerened I got 10.8kmpl tankfull to tankfull method for the entire trip. Please bear in mind this is including driving fully loaded for nearly 800 km in Himalayas at an average speed of 30-50 kms on good sections and 5-15 kms at bad ones. After crossing Rampur I was basically driving in either2nd or 3rd gear till kaza. At planes I was maintain a speed of about 110-120 kms.
12. The interiors are old schooled and simple but the quality is top notch. One of the best I have seen in suv’s of same segment. Everything is tightly screwed.
13. Front seats are very comfortable, the middle row again being comfortable. The third row seats are only suitable for either kids or adults less than 5’6 ht.
14. The suv comes with abs
and map my india gps navigation system with Bluetooth connectivity.
15. Overall the suv is VFM
proposition. Negatives of Rexton:
1. Suspensions are too soft. I wish if Ssangyong could have given little more stiffer springs.
2. Steering wheel is again too light. But it’s a boom for Himalayan and city roads as hardly any effort is needed. At high speeds it feels a little light but its not that bad also. The best thing is that even after driving for nearly 6000 kms non stop in bad and no roads not even a single rattle from rexton. Kudos to mahindra.
Please bear with me as many members were wanting for a mini review of Rexton so I have decided to club both the review and travelogue together.
I’ll let the photos do the talking now.
Thanks for your patience…