Hyundai i20 Active – The active lifestyle
I remember when I was a kid, there were very few cars that were suitable to an active lifestyle. A close friend’s father drove a rickety old SUV, and I laughed at his father’s choice of wheels but it served a purpose. When not ferrying his large family in questionable comfort, the SUV had enough space and access to get his German Shepherd in, drive comfortably to his factory and back home where the said canine was a guard dog. The kids ran for their lives at the sight of the beautiful giant. The misunderstood dog was actually quite a mellow creature once you got to know him and I even remember going camping in this van with my friend, his dad and the German Shepherd. These days, living an active lifestyle is getting more and more important. City life sucks your energy through the week, you work long hours and a quick weekend trip is almost impossible if you have a pet at home and a car unsuitable to carry your dog with you. Cars like the i20 Active seem to be made for just that; getting out, living life and not leaving anyone behind, especially the most loved member of your family, your dog.
Meera and Mira sharing a nice moment in the i20 Active’s boot
The Hyundai i20 Active is the perfect mix of a city car with outdoorsy tweaks. The suspension is raised by 20mm from the Elite i20, so when you step out of town, the ground clearance is good enough to go over poor roads and large speed breakers. You can venture off-road, tackle the odd dirt trail and even drop two wheels off the shoulder of the road without worrying when you drive through smaller villages. We did that on a recent drive to catch up with an animal behaviourist on the outskirts of Pune.
Nothing better than a animal behaviourist giving tips for my dog
Animal behaviourist must be a job description coined by a very serious person. A glance at Meera Thosar, dealing with her 9-month old Rottweiler Mira will make you forget about fancy job titles though. Meera is more of a friend to Mira, one who understands her as well as good friends understand each other. There’s an active dialogue of gestures and energies passed on between the two, without much talk or bark. Meera has been dealing with animals for over a decade and a half. Turns out she started off as a snake catcher, rescuing snakes from residences in the city. She was bitten twice in her career as a snake rescuer but that didn’t stop her. She turned her attention towards dogs, trained herself extensively and is now a professional canine trainer and behaviourist.
Pets are fun to have around but they also need to be trained to live with you. You don’t want a fully grown dog, all of 45kg, paws in the air, jumping to greet you right? You will be knocked off your feet. You may enjoy a pup doing that but knowing what is right and what isn’t, spotting signs of aggression and knowing a dog’s nature is essential to living a happy life with one. Meera has trained over 200 dogs of different breeds, so she knows the nuances well.
She runs a kennel that’s in the middle of these lush green hills just off the road that leads to Lavasa from Pune. The stretch of road leading up to the kennel is broken and rises steeply. The i20 Active’s pliant suspension soaks in the bumps and the available low-end torque makes sure the cross hatchback climbs the hill easily. Hyundai smartly changed the ratios of the Active from the Elite i20 knowing that it will tackle the tougher terrain. More torque, as a result, is delivered at lower revs so steep inclines are easy to negotiate. The gravelly patches kick up stone chips that could chip the paint near door sills easily but the cross hatchback is designed to save the car from these as well. The plastic cladding provides enough protection and gives it a rugged appearance. Meera needs a car that can handle the rough stuff yet something that is easy enough to drive in town and the i20 Active is turning out to be the perfect fit right about now. We flip and fold the rear seats flat to open up space to take her dog Mira for a spin. She leaps into the Active from the large rear hatch opening and gives me a good sniff before we start driving. The supple ride is essential for your dog. I love cars and enjoy a stiffly sprung setup for a blast through a winding road but on the days I want to take my Golden Retriever Oscar for a joyride, there’s nothing more important than space behind the front seats and a cushiony ride.
There’s joy in spending quality time with your pets doing activities they enjoy. Meera has constructed a swimming pool on her premises where the dogs love to jump in. A white lab staying at her kennel for a few days enjoys a nice swim. He gets into the pool, flaps his paws and does that for the next hour or so. How often do you get to treat your pet to a dip in the pool or a day at the beach? Dogs, like other animals, are natural swimmers and it’s also a good way to keep them cool as a pooch’s normal body temperature is usually a couple of degrees higher than humans. In our horrid summers, it’s a nice idea to give your pet the respite. The air conditioning in the i20 Active is impressive so as we drive Mira to the pool, she is already cool. The white lab on the other hand won’t step out.
Dogs are like kids all their life – a toy and some play time is all they need
The place Meera runs, Happy Tails, is a… happy place. It’s also a place you can learn with your dog and make it a part of your active lifestyle. It’s not just Meera though. There are quite a few activity centres coming up in every city for families with pets. Pune has a few, then there’s one near Mumbai called Phoebe’s Farm that runs a pet retreat where you can stay overnight in tents with your pet. There are even fancy hotel chains like the Taj and the Four Seasons that allow pets as guests on some of their properties. So what are you waiting for? Live the active lifestyle.