For over two months now, the skies over Maharashtra have had a vast amount of cloud cover. Recently though, the sun finally made its way out. We decided to take advantage of this weather and make hay while the sun shines. All this while we were stuck with our daily routine coming back and forth from the office. So, to break the monotony the Auto Editors at TheWheelz decided to choose their favourite wheels and hit the road!
Abhinav Jakhar: Guys, I think I have something perfect for what we have in mind. I’m going with the Skoda Kodiaq!
Saurabh Gamare: I need something liberating, something… sporty, like the Audi S5 Sportback.
Mrinmoy Choudhury: How you guys are happy with calling out cars for yourself. I want to take the Triumph Tiger 1200 XCx out for this adventure.
SG: Wonderful then, let’s do what we do best.
AJ: Awesome! But, where shall we head to this time?
MC: Guys, guys, I know this place, it’s a Resort and a wellness centre in the outskirts of Pune. I have heard it is a beautiful place and the ride around that village is scenic too. Want to check that place out?
SG: Please think of the S5 Sportback too, the drive shouldn’t be filled with bad roads. Will we have highways on our way?
AJ: Don’t worry Saurabh, Maharashtra generally has good roads and plus, if it does go back, you can always take a detour. Mrinmoy and I can handle the rough stuff!
MC: Yes Abhinav, that’s what I am talking about, some broken roads, potholes, maybe some slush as well. Oh! I forgot that the sun is out, so the slush is actually turned to dust now.
SG: Dust? The S5 Sportback will leave you guys in the dust on the highways. It’s got a 3.0-litre V6 turbocharged engine underneath that produces 349 BHP and 500 Nm of torque. It can dash on the 100 km/h in just 4.7 seconds! You’ll be tiny spots in my rearview mirror. But, I’d love to stick around with y’all most of the time.
AJ: Come on Saurabh, it’s not all about the power. Sure, I won’t be able to keep up with you or Mrinmoy but at least I don’t have to stop for fuel that often! I’ve got the 2.0-litre TDI engine which provides a good mix of efficiency and performance.
MC: Bros, It’s not always about the litres you count. I got a 1215cc inline 3-cylinder DOHC engine and it puts down 139 BHP of power and the Tiger has a kerb weight of around 270 kilograms. You guys can do the power-to-weight ratio math by yourselves.
SG: Let me lead the way then, it’s going to be one amazing weekend! I am all set and have packed my luggage in the S5 Sportback’s 480 litres liftback boot.
AJ: Boot space? I’ve got seven seats and a 7-speed DSG automatic, so I’ll be happily trundling along at the back in comfort. Don’t mind me! But, I’ve got 148 Bhp and 340 Nm of torque if I want to catch up.
MC: Abhinav and I are very close with the BHP count, but that really doesn’t matter when you want to enjoy a ride. I have no boot, but this baby has saddle stays mounted on both sides and the rear seat is surrounded by an integrated grab rail that also allows me to tie my backpack with a bungee cord. Guess what? I have the option of heated seats and heated grips, but they won’t be necessary unless someone is riding in really cold weather.
SG: Wherever we may go, the S5 Sportback will adjust its suspension and respond accordingly. If I want a massage while I’m cruising, I can activate it right through my driving seat.
AJ: Since I’ve got Laurin & Klement variant, I’m pretty well sorted when it comes to safety. I’ve got 9-airbags and hands-free parking. I even get a 360-degree surrounding area camera for those tight spots. I know I won’t be using most of these features but it’s nice to know you have them, right?
MC: A 5-inch TFT dash for all the information I need, electrically adjustable windscreen, 5 riding modes, wire-spoke wheels, a shaft final drive, hydraulically actuated torque-assist clutch, Triumph Semi-Active Suspension and a factory finished Arrow exhaust. I have a long list of features that make the Tiger 1200 XCx a very capable machine for long tours, adventure riding and some serious off-roading. But then it’s quite bulky and I really don’t want to experience crawling speeds on this one.
So, the drive begins for both of them in their respective vehicles while Mrinmoy is on a different route which goes through the old Pune-Mumbai highway. The new Mumbai-Pune Express Highway does not really allow motorbikes and so that is the reason you can see a lot of bikers flocking that old road. The express highway is a very good road with wide lanes and toll booths. The old highway is a two-lane divided road which crosses many village settlements, twisty roads and lot of broken patches. The drive was calculated to be approximately two hours for Saurabh and Abhinav each and Mrinmoy was expecting to be there in two and a half hours considering the smaller roads and slower average speed. What happens next, find out?
(Auto Editors connected through conference calling)
SG: How’s it going, guys? Abhinav, I hope I am not too fast for you. This 5-kilometre stretch was so much fun to drive on. And with the drive select option available on the steering wheel, it made my life even easier to change the drive modes on the go. In the Dynamic mode, the characteristics instantly changed and I switched to manual paddle shifting, just to hold the gear longer on the hill climbs. Push the throttle a bit harder and the manic V6 turbocharged engine erupts in a loud roar. Also, on the way, I found a trick to listen to some of the engine’s roar, release the throttle when it goes above 3,400rpm and you’ll be in for some treats.
AJ: It’s going beautifully well! I don’t think I’ve ever been this comfortable in a car of this size for a long time. The Kodiaq gets multiple driving modes as well. I can choose between Eco, Normal, Sports, Individual and Snow. Also, don’t worry Saurabh, I’ll catch up. I’ve been driving along in Normal mode so far. I guess it’s time to unleash the Sports mode and use the paddle shifters or Tiptronic gearbox to full effect.
MC: The 6-speed gearbox on the Tiger is quite precise, but I did feel like it is a bit notchy at times. However, the gear ratios are just amazingly suited for this huge beast as it darts over a 100 km/hr in roughly 5 seconds and by no time I was doing 150 km/hr with two more gears left. For cruising, it does 120 km/hr at 4000 rpm in 6th gear and you can go as slow as 60 km/hr and again twist the throttle to take you gunning down the highway. The ride-by-wire throttle control means the throttle response is very crisp. One main feature is the Triumph Semi-Active Suspension which adapts to the road conditions when a specific mode is selected. I kept the suspension settings between comfort and sport which handled the bumps as well as the tight turns.
SG: Guys, I’m only 10 minutes away from our destination. Let’s just drive and not talk!
MC: There they are! Saurabh, I was expecting you to reach here before me. Meanwhile, I have found this nice location for us to have some fun. Guys follow me.
These guys notice an off-road trail after some windy country roads inside the village and their faces permanently got pasted with an evil grin since then. Mrinmoy in no time took the Tiger 1200 XCx off the road and soon was zippin’ and sliding on the trails. Rocks, bumps, slush and loose ground didn’t even seem to bother him. The off-road mode of the tiger is easy enough to allow him to have a lot of fun without letting him take a tumble. Abhinav was not trailing behind either. The Kodiaq comes with 4X4 drive which handles medium off-roading with ease. Soon both of them raised a cloud of dust around the patch. Sadly, Saurabh was just a spectator to all the fun as the low ground clearance of the S5 Sportback did not allow him to go off the road and even minor potholes and bumps slowed him down to dead speeds in the fear of scraping the belly.
AJ: This looks right up our alley, let’s hit this trail! Saurabh, are you coming?
SG: Go on, but don’t expect me to wait for you guys on the highway!
MC: Whoa! That was fun, AJ.
AJ: You said it, M! We should go off the beaten path much more often. Too bad Saurabh couldn’t join us. Let’s try and catch up with him.
As the day came to an end, these guys assembled in Panvel on their way back to Mumbai, the city of dreams, they took some time to discuss the pros and cons of their respective cars. Mrinmoy was all over the place singing praises for the Tiger and how the Traction Control saved him from fishtailing even after he lost traction on the wet. However, he praised the Metzeler dual-purpose tyres which offered immense grip and confidence. Abhinav was surprised at the amazing comfort and stability of the Kodiaq on the highway and how the huge fuel tank delivered an exceptional range leaving fuel for the next day. Saurabh too couldn’t stop smiling as the V6 turbocharged petrol engine was a hoot to drive and the features and comfort of the S5, especially the massager seats made his drive a luxurious one. After a quick session of chai, these guys head to their homes with a lot of learning and experience gathered all on that day.
SG: This has been one memorable experience, the S5 Sportback is one understated beast. It’s not too flashy and blends well in the city. If you want to have fun with a bit of practicality, for ₹72.43 lakh (ex-showroom), it is definitely worth investing.
MC: Well well, this is a motorcycle and not a car, so the price is really not comparable, but starting at ₹17 lakhs (ex-showroom) this one is a really capable adventure motorcycle for some serious exploration. It has some serious features and a great riding experience which is unmatchable.
AJ: None of the specifications, features or prices can really be compared since all of these machines provide a very different experience. At ₹36.79 lakh (ex-showroom), I feel the Kodiaq is a steal! It provides the kind of comfort we’ve come to expect of more expensive cars. The performance and features also are on par or even better, in some instances. It’s an experience unlike I’ve ever had before. This is majorly down to the Kodiaq’s tractability. One moment it’ll be a 4×4, capable of taking on almost any obstacle; a smooth cruiser on the highway, in another.