Honda Drive to Discover 10: A new discovery with the City, WR-V, Amaze and Jazz
A fascinating realization came back to me on this trip. The idea of 'adventuring' or 'taking the road less travelled' is quite deeply associated with images of burly 4x4s fording through rivers or clambering up dunes. But that's not where it stops, this idea of trodding the unbeaten path can have a seemingly tamer but no less exciting expression.
A better half of the over 800 km route charted out for us by Honda for the tenth Drive to Discover was along the Karnataka coastline. For me, as with many others, I assume, the idea of India's western coast revolves around the few beach towns we have around Mumbai and Pune, the new haven for the remote worker that is Goa and the lush backwaters of Kerala. So for every dive that we took off the NH66 on this leg of our drive from Bangalore to Goa, there was a surprise or two in store for me.
From the quaint fishing villages around Kodi beach at the mouth of the Panchagagavali estuary to the bustling fishing town of Honavar on the banks of the Badagani river, a unique setting was only minutes away from the uncluttered highway. Even at the fag end of our drive in Goa, a wrong turn led us to an unnamed fishing beach, with nary a tourist or a shack to be seen. Sometimes a detour wasn't even necessary, the NH66 cuts past pristine coconut palm-lined rivulets but the big highlight is the section along the Maravanthe beach. The road is built on a slim bank splitting the Arabian Sea and the Kolluru river and makes for one of the most unique stretches of road probably anywhere in the country.
And this sense of exploration wasn't just reserved for the coast. Earlier on in our trip, on the leg from Bangalore to Mangalore via Chikmagalur, we found ourselves snaking along the lush forested hills up to Chikmagalur, where the next day some stunning views of the coffee estate-shod Western Ghats awaited us. The early morning climb up to Mullyanagiri peak will excite the avid driver but there is an equal pleasure to be drawn from the narrow lanes that wind along the foothills through the estates and the clean, cool breeze you are fed with here.
But for the ardent petrolhead, nothing less than the Charmady Ghat section of the NH73 between Mudigere and Mangalore will do. A 25 km section of pristine tarmac that winds itself around the hills in sweeping corners and tight switchbacks, there are thrills to be had at every turn, quite literally. It helps that the scenery is similarly engaging with open peaks and lush forests littered with waterfalls and streams.
To drive home the point we started with, we weren't doing all of this is in a relentless diesel SUV or a lithe GT. We had with us Honda Car India's current range of offerings, all cars that you and I can go out and buy without having to lose a functional bodily organ. We've said before that we like the torquey diesel engine and good visibility in the WR-V out on the highway, but the same attributes held it in good stead in the climb up to Chikmagalur's highest peak. We've also said the City CVT is probably the best sedan you can own to live with in traffic. But the same City CVT is also quite good around a great driving road, with its well-judged suspension, responsive engine and fairly reactive gearbox. In much the same vein, the Amaze is great at picking through narrow village lanes or covering brisk highway miles with its small footprint and rev-happy petrol engine. And finally, the Jazz seems to enlarge the narrow, sometimes tricky bylanes of Goa with its small footprint but with great interior space.
If you haven't already noticed, there's a theme here. You don't need to listen to the marketing fluff that comes your way when you chose a car to drive. Most cars will hold up to pretty much everything you ask them to do, especially well-engineered ones like the Hondas we drove, and not just the ones that look like they can brush aside anything in their path. All you need is that adventuring spirit, and that's not too hard to find, is it?
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