Drive to Discover X: Chasing adventure in a convoy of Honda cars in the south of India
Drive to Goa! That was the first thing that caught my attention in an email from Ed Sirish Chandran. The boss had entrusted me to head out on my first media event, the tenth edition of Drive to Discover. This is a drive that is curated to allow journalists from all over India to test the range of Honda cars, on amazing roads over a few days. This year, it was an 800km road trip from Bengaluru to Goa via Chikmagalur, Mangalore and the Karwar coast.
We started in Bengaluru with a quick brief about the day’s plan, grabbed the keys of the Amaze petrol manual, and set off. The 1.2-litre petrol was great with 89bhp, mated to a five-speed manual. Our 283-kilometre route was mostly on straightforward highways and the Amaze amazed us with its fuel efficiency and excellent ride and handling. The only real challenge to the car was an uphill climb to our resort on a dirt track as I thought the clearance may be an issue and the grip would be iffy, but the Amaze climbed up happily.
Day two, and it was time to switch cars. Now I found myself behind the wheel of the Amaze diesel manual. Heading down the hills lined with coffee estates, we were treated to some spectacular views in the morning light. And as soon as we touched the highway, the Amaze did what it does best, a smooth ride with a capable 1.5-litre diesel unit roaring under the hood. The impressive diesel variant was similar in terms of ride and handling to the petrol, but felt punchier. After a 191-kilometre run to our lunch stop in Udupi, we gorged on some Mangalorean seafood. The lip-smacking fish curry was worth the four-and-a-half-hour drive! Post lunch, we grabbed the keys of the City, in the best possible guise — the petrol manual. I have driven the fourth-generation City, but hadn’t had a chance to drive this gen after its launch last year. It was not so different from the previous one and the straight highways allowed it to stretch its legs, proving it to be an effortless cruiser at high speeds. Not only was it smooth but was also planted in the corners. Driving it was so much fun that I didn’t think twice about taking a detour, to the Kapu beach. And here, I chanced upon something straight out of the movies; the Arabian sea running on my left and backwaters on the right, the road scything through effortlessly for a good 15-20 kilometres. I had to stop! The sunset, the waves, the backwaters, all of it came together to make for a beautiful sight. With the sun having dipped over the horizon, we drove another 12km or so before chancing upon a beach, the bay filled with fishing boats bobbing in the dying light. Stunning! It’s my phone wallpaper now. Day three not only took us on a drive down coastal roads but also to our final destination, Goa. And I was behind the wheel of the City with the CVT now. Giving us company on the drive were an assortment of road surfaces – perfect stretches, ghats, rough patches. Those long stretches on highways were perfect for the City to stretch its legs again. It felt planted with wonderful steering and driving on those coastal routes, was so enjoyable. Heading towards Goa, we took a detour to the Murudeshwar temple, home to the second-tallest Shiva statue in the world.
Next stop was Gokarna beach, a fairly popular tourist destination — and an off-beat alternative to Goa’s beaches. Mind you, the area is under the forest department and you need a valid Covid negative report to enter. A prerequisite to attending this drive was having a Covid negative certificate and our motley crew of road trippers were allowed inside.
Further towards Goa, the road transformed with bends and fast corners through the hills, truly an enthusiast’s road. Post lunch, it was my turn to drive the petrol automatic Jazz. Not an easy transition, coming down from 1.5-litre CVT to 1.2-litre CVT. I missed the punch of the 1.5-litre engine, but the more time I spent behind the wheel and the closer I got to Goa, the more I got used to the Jazz. It was smooth and refined, but it wasn’t a car I felt like pushing hard on our roads. Thanks to its 165mm of ground clearance, it soaked up the bumps quite well on the bad roads between Karwar to Goa. We were excited to enter Goa — who wouldn’t be! We may have missed a beach-side sunset as we rolled in to our hotel after dark, but that didn’t dampen any spirits and we had a rolicking dinner by the beach soon after. We didn’t have much time left on our hands though, with just half a day to explore before we caught our flights out. And our partner in crime for that last day? The WR-V.
We started early at 7am. With the keys of the WR-V petrol, we headed straight towards Vasco, some 30 kilometres from our resort. And like most places, Goa looks more beautiful early in the morning. There’s a calm that takes over its streets, the tourists are still recovering from their late night partying and we had the roads all to ourselves. The WR-V was convenient around those narrow roads and not once did I feel nervous behind the wheel. The raised ground clearance also had me feeling a little adventurous, taking it on to the beach. We spent the morning exploring beaches and churches, before handing over the car keys with a heavy heart and catching our flights back home. Drive to Discover had taken me away from the city, thrust me behind the wheels of some lovely Honda cars and got me to explore some of the beautiful roads and destinations our country has to offer. It wasn’t a drive I was going to forget any time soon!