Sunday, January 29, 2023

A small road trip with my 2 babies

I had been itching to go on a long drive since the past few weeks..My Tata Altroz XZ was turning 2 years and I wanted to celebrate that with her. My wife was making plans with her friends for the Republic Day long weekend. 

Voila! That gave me a perfect excuse to visit my friend in Pune and do a short road trip with my Altroz to celebrate her 2 years with us!

I decided to add a twist in the tale: Bring her older sibling (my 2.5 year old toddler) with me on the road trip!

We have trained Vivaan to be seated in a child seat since he was a year old and we also have generally taken him out with my wife on 4-5 hour road drives.. This was a similar situation.

But this was him with me alone..So it was exciting to spend time with him, but all by myself!

And I was hoping for the best!

I had planned a visit to Pune Zoo with him. That's one of the things we do, explore the zoo in whichever city we visit with him. He loves talking about animals

And so i started preparing for the itinerary and informed my friend of the arrival..The route was planned and we were all set for a mini picnic!

  1. Clothes
  2. Baby Food for emergencies
  3. Baby Cycle
  4. Foldable Potty seat
  5. Books and Toys for the Car
  6. Baby Playlist in case he gets bored
  7. Google Maps Offline Download
The day started with getting out of Thane and Navi Mumbai at noon. So i was expecting lesser traffic than usual till i reached Panvel. My Altroz was cruising along in the 5th gear once we started the Mumbai-Pune Expressway.The ride and handling of the car are the best when you drive it on the highways..The stability (compared to my previous car) gives you the confidence that this car can go above and beyond 120 on highways and won't break a sweat!

But with Vivaan, I had to keep the speed under 100 KMPH.He was fast asleep in the car after a karaoke session for the first 30 minutes!

We drove for about 90 mins before reaching out first pit-stop for lunch after the Talegaon Toll for some Dosa and Lassi for both of us. I planned to reach the zoo by around 4 PM so that we can come during a relatively easier time post noon and the animals would not be sleeping inside their shade.

There was no parking inside the zoo, but fortunately I found a parking spot on the side..Time to bring out the baby cycle so he can sit the long walks in the zoo! The boot space in Altroz was plenty to accommodate the cycle and the luggage for a day..

After walking for around 4KMS (8,000 steps done, workout for today is over!) the zoo closed at around 5:30 PM.Now we needed to drive back to Wakad at my friend's place in the evening hoping Pune's traffic isn't as bad as Mumbai's..

Happily that wasn't the case and we covered the distance in 45 minutes..

After spending the night at the friends place, I decided to head back via a stop at Mapro's for lunch..I love the Strawberry Thickshake and so i decided to indulge for a day with Vivaan..Ended up ordering one too many dishes, Vivaan ate his share of Fries and Sandwich but I did not account for my wife not being there to share the food with me.. Never mind, Everything goes well with a strawberry thickshake!

Here's what I loved about the drive in my Altroz XZ 2021 version:
1. You can clock 140kmph and you will still feel you can take the car further. 
2. You won't get tired on a 2-3 hour drive.. The driver seat comfort is great
3. I love the music system!
4. Although the ground clearance is low compared to the competition, never in my 2 year journey the car has scrapped or touched any speed breaker! Apt for an occasional Village road visit

And here's what I wish could have been better:
1. The suspension at slower speeds is stiff and you feel every bump!
2. Lackluster thrust in the first gear takes getting used to..
3. Panel Gaps! Why Tata Why!!!

How did I do? Let the stats speak for themselves:
  • Trip Duration: 8 Hours of Driving
  • Distance: 354 KMs
  • Avg. Fuel Economy: 18.2 KMPL
  • Avg. Speed: 44 KMPH
  • Top Speed: 103 KMPH
  • Proper Gear Utilization: 86%

Friday, January 13, 2023

Test Riding the EV wave [Ola S1 Pro Vs Ather 450X]

 I have been closely observing the EV market since the past 2 years.. My research started way back in 2020 when I was contemplating to upgrade my car and Nexon EV had just launched.. An EV car did not seem feasible back then for many reasons, but 'range anxiety' would always be at the top..

I think a 2 wheeler EV is a good entry point for anyone looking to switch over to the EV ecosystem and so I was interested in that market to be precise. Ather was always a top contender being in the market for quite some time, but the entry of Ola did spice up the market last year.

I am currently contemplating on ditching my 8 year old Petrol Bike, so thought of giving both of them a spin last weekend!

My thoughts on Ather:

The booking experience was ordinary.. I visited the showroom for the test ride near my house and the staff was least interested in showing around the bike..

The 450X Gen had just got an upgrade 1 day ago with 2 new colors and a software update. So i was interested in checking out their updated seat posture and colors.. They allowed me and my wife a test ride after click a picture of our license.

What I Liked:

The style and design of Ather feels like a premium scooter. The build and finish quality seems adequate and the updated seating position ensures that 2 people can adequately sit and ride.

The Ather online community they have is pretty vibrant and active to help out with any issues you might have with your new scooter

What I did not like:

  • The underseat storage however is small and might be an issue for me if i have to store a helmet and other grocery related items.
  • Mediocre Range compared to Ola
  • Price is not justified for the features it is offering

My Thoughts on Ola:

The first thing this reminds me is Wall-E!

The design is very Retro! I had my reservations after watching a lot of videos about 'Ola EV issues' and how their quality is not up to the mark since it is still the first generation scooter (compared to Ather's 3 generations of work)

However, I loved their overall online approach.. I could book a test ride from the app and the rider would come to my home for the Test ride.. So much convenient! 

The test ride experience was smooth with multiple follow up from the Ola side.. The rider explained me about the features on the scooter (which I already knew, but it was a good sales pitch nonetheless!). 

What I Liked:

The styling grows on you! It is a simple Vespa-sque design which will appeal to a certain section of the crowd (me included). Even if the acceleration is slower compared to Ather, Ola makes up for it in the mid range and top speed.. The ride was firm, but not too stiff. You could feel the bumps on the road, although a bit less compared to Ather's stiff suspension..

I loved their overall online experience from end to end.. I could directly book the scooter online and get it delivered to my home. Visiting the showroom is always a pain!

What I did not like:

  • This being the 1st generation scooter, reliability is still a question mark for me. 
  • The 'Map My India' navigation is inferior compared to Ather's recently released Vector Google Maps with live traffic navigation.
  • Speakers are a bit unwarranted for me.. I don't know anyone who would ride a scooter playing music on their speaker. But you never know!
  • Fit and Finish issues were evident on the test scooter.. It might be because it was a 'test vehicle' anyway, but Ather feels a much more finished product.
  • 2 Helmets which we have to buy compulsorily even if you have spare helmets at home. Why?