The Honda Drive to Discover 9 took us through little-known parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in two very capable Hondas: the Civic and the CR-V
Our job as automotive journalists has taken us across the length and breadth of the country. But somehow one part of the country hasn’t been explored as much as the stunning beauty and rich culture of the region demands. I am talking about the splendid North East of the country. So, when Honda India invited us for the Drive to Discover 9, we jumped at the opportunity. The drive, over the course of the better part of a week, took us through Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The cherry on the cake was the fact that we would be driving the Honda CR-V and Civic all through the drive.
The monsoon had just arrived and anyone who has ever been to the North East would know that it rains here by the bucketload. Landing in Guwahati, we drove to the hotel in the centre of the city. The rains had already made the view outside my window a brighter shade of green. This drive was certain to be a one-of-a-kind experience.
We started off early on the first day as we were making our way to Majuli, the largest river island in the country. It wasn’t the distance but the fact that we would be driving through some very narrow roads that weren’t in the best condition. However, we had two very capable machines in our hands. I started off with the Civic with its punchy diesel engine and slick-shifting manual gearbox. The hustle and bustle of Guwahati was quickly dealt with and we soon found ourselves passing through lush green of Kaziranga. The national park itself was shut as it is for a few months every year. The numerous animal corridors that we passed made us slow down and take in the beauty of the forest and the tea plantations that have sprouted up within touching distance of the forest. However, we ensured that we didn’t spend too much time as we had a ferry to catch at Jorhat before 3:30pm when the last one for the river island departs. With a heavy right foot, we made great progress and soon stopped for lunch. All through the drive it was evident that the Civic, regardless of its sedan body-style was more than capable of handling the crater-sized potholes that the roads presented us with. And not just that, it did so with a ride so sublime that even the most picky of us automotive journalists were all praises for it by lunch.
A quick lunch later, I decided to call shotgun and spent the next couple of hours gazing outside the window. The North East has so much to offer and even fleeting glances from a passing car fill you with awe and wonder. Bad roads soon opened up to some well-surfaced highways and that’s when the Civic’s horses were put to good use. We gave the slow moving traffic a miss and were soon doing triple digit speeds with ease.
Soon, we were at Nimati ghat in Jorhat and parked ourselves aboard a large ferry that took us to Majuli. The serenity of the river island has to be experienced to be believed. Soon after we got off the ferry we explored the narrow roads leading to an eco-resort deep inside the island where an evening of traditional folk dance performances followed.
The next day brought with it searing heat and humidity but also gave me the chance to get behind the wheel of the CR-V that took us to Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh. All through the drive, we were driving along the Brahmaputra and just like every year, the river was flooded pushing the animals off the plains and onto the roads. That did make driving a challenge, as we often found ourselves slamming on the brakes after finding stray cattle on the road. To its credit, the CR-V didn’t mind the hard braking one bit and the amazing levels of bite and feedback meant that I didn’t mind either. I was piloting the diesel auto CR-V and was blown away by the amount of torque available. Suffice to say, overtaking on the narrow highway sections was easy. The roads did present us with a huge number of imperfections on the way but the CR-V was very composed, leading many of us to remark that it indeed is just the perfect car for a drive like this.
To Pasighat and then further on to Dibrugarh and Guwahati, we found some really good stretches of highway and spent some time enjoying the beautiful Northeast and the wonderful cabin of the Civic and CR-V. This time, unlike the Drive to Discovers in the past, we spent much more time on the road and with the CR-V and Civic, so we weren’t complaining. In fact, for us auto journalists who are constantly on the go, the Drive to Discover was a welcome respite.