HYUNDAI DY­NAM­ICS

There’s noth­ing quite like good ride qual­ity and dy­nam­ics when you de­cide to go tour­ing. We delve over it dur­ing our drive to the ASI sites of Ajanta and El­lora

Evo India - - CONTENTS - WORDS by ANAND MO­HAN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY by RO­HIT MANE

Noth­ing like a road­trip to ap­pre­ci­ate the dy­nam­ics of a car

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN on a bul­lock cart? Large fixed wooden wheels hold­ing up an open cab, the only form of lat­eral move­ment be­ing the arm that joins a hinge that is con­nected to the bul­lock. Now imag­ine the cart hit­ting a pot­hole at 100kmph… Of course it won’t but if it did, you’d be flung in the air, the wheel and in all like­li­hood, the cart it­self would break into pieces. That’s what sus­pen­sions do – main­tain body con­trol over ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the road so that you can drive at higher speeds. We drove the Creta to Au­rangabad from Pune, just to ap­pre­ci­ate a com­fort­able ride on a mod­ern sus­pen­sion, and to visit the won­der­ful caves of Ajanta and El­lora. Hyundai has launched a CSR cam­paign in as­so­ci­a­tion with the Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey of In­dia to save our her­itage. What bet­ter lo­ca­tion to team up with the Hyundai Creta for a road­trip, than to the ASI sites of Ajanta and El­lora.

Ajanta and El­lora need lit­tle in­tro­duc­tion for their mag­nif­i­cence, but for the unini­ti­ated, these are rock-cut caves that show­case the most im­pres­sive ex­am­ples of In­dian art, cre­ated at a time when mod­ern-day tech­nol­ogy wasn’t avail­able to achieve such en­gi­neer­ing feats. The exquisitely de­tailed caves carved out in rock, and the paint­ings done on the in­side walls of this UNESCO world her­itage site will sim­ply blow your mind. With time and wrath of chang­ing weather, these sites have de­te­ri­o­rated.

Ajanta is 104km from Au­rangabad and El­lora is 29km away in the other di­rec­tion. If you leave early in the morn­ing from Pune, you can make it into Au­rangabad town, which is about 240km from Pune, in around four hours. The dou­ble lane high­way helps you main­tain high tripledigit speeds and with the Creta, it is ab­so­lutely tire­less. The sus­pen­sion is well tuned for the high­way, never giv­ing that soft wal­lowy feel­ing you ex­pe­ri­ence in many cars built in In­dia these days. There are two as­pects to mod­ern sus­pen­sions – springs and dampers, both de­pend­ing on each other to con­trol a ve­hi­cle’s body move­ment. The Creta gets in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion that em­ploys McPher­son struts with coil springs sus­pend­ing the front wheels. The strut type springs hold the car and com­press every time you hit a bump or an un­du­la­tion, and the dampers then come into play to con­trol the speed the springs free up at. The stiff­ness of the spring and the com­pres­sion of the damper can be ma­nip­u­lated to give the ve­hi­cle the ride qual­ity you de­sire. The Creta gets the tune right. It strikes a per­fect bal­ance be­tween city sup­ple­ness and high­way stiff­ness to give you the best of both worlds. At high speeds, the Creta feels poised.

We take mod­ern sus­pen­sion for granted just as we do our her­itage. Why care about some­thing you haven’t built and know lit­tle about right? We don’t re­alise that the lessons learnt in build­ing these caves have evolved over years to the mod­ern architecture you see to­day. The dome in­side the caves, the sky­lights that are strate­gi­cally placed to light up a dark room

THE CRETA’S SUS­PEN­SION STRIKES A PER­FECT BAL­ANCE BE­TWEEN CITY SUP­PLE­NESS AND HIGH­WAY STIFF­NESS

dur­ing the day, the spac­ing be­tween col­umns to en­sure the roof doesn’t cave in, the size of the steps, the door open­ings; it all took tremen­dous stud­ies in the ab­sence of cal­cu­la­tors and com­put­ers to know how to build them right.

Car sus­pen­sions too evolved from the early 1900’s leaf springs. They were cost ef­fec­tive and all you needed to do was add leaves to the sus­pen­sion to beef it up for heav­ier ve­hi­cles. But leaf springs are like horse rides. They have to be un­der load to give you an ac­cept­able ride or else the car will gal­lop over bumps. As speeds in­creased and road net­work around the world ex­panded af­ter world war II, most man­u­fac­tur­ers started us­ing in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion with coil springs and dampers. Some con­tin­ued to use leaf springs for the rear and a few do them even now, but ma­jor­ity of cars come with tor­sion beams with coil springs for the rear. The Creta uses this in­de­pen­dent front, tor­sion beam rear set up.

While the type of sus­pen­sion is con­stant, get­ting the tun­ing right takes time and ex­pe­ri­ence. Hyundai were known to of­fer softly set up cars in the past as they catered to a pre­dom­i­nantly city driven mar­ket. But with the ex­pand­ing line-up and fo­cus on driv­ing dy­nam­ics in the re­cent past, cars like the Grand i10, Elite i20 and Xcent started to show a new di­rec­tion for Hyundai.

Once you cross Au­rangabad and take on the sin­gle-laned high­way to Ajanta, the road sur­face springs quite a few sur­prises on you. The Creta’s good ride qual­ity helps you to keep the pace up and there is enough punch in the 1.6-litre diesel en­gine to not feel strained when you can stretch its legs on a long enough road. A small hill road just as you near Ajanta caves lets you ex­pe­ri­ence the Creta’s body con­trol. It’s an SUV with 190mm of ground clear­ance so the roll into corners is nat­u­ral, but there’s good grip in the tyres and never at any point, even when you hus­tle the Creta through a se­ries of corners, does it feel out of its el­e­ments.

Ajanta has a set of 30 rock-hewn caves carved by Bud­dhists. A horse­shoe shaped rock at the edge of a river that now only flows when the mon­soons hit the re­gion, seems to have been picked for its prox­im­ity to the wa­ter body. Sum­mers in this re­gion can get pretty hot but step into the caves and you will no­tice the drop in tem­per­a­ture. The ven­ti­la­tion in­side is also a rev­e­la­tion. It’s fresh and cool in the 40-de­gree sum­mer heat. Ajanta is also known for its bold paint­ings of well en­dowed women, art that is rare to find in mod­ern In­dia. Our her­itage shows how ex­pres­sive our an­ces­tors were and how we’ve sup­pressed this over the years.

The Ajanta caves were carved out in a com­pact space but El­lora is far more spread out. Un­like the fully Bud­dhist in­flu­ence at Ajanta, El­lora dis­plays three var­ied styles – Bud­dhism, Brah­man­ism and Jain­ism. The first 12 caves are Bud­dhist, 13-30 be­long to Brah­man­ism and the fi­nal four have been built by Jains. It’s a long walk and many of the caves have been par­tially ru­ined with time so the best ones to visit are cave no 5, 10, 15, 16, 21, 29 and 32.

THE VEN­TI­LA­TION IN­SIDE THESE CAVES IS A REV­E­LA­TION. IT’S COOL IN THE 40-DE­GREE HEAT

We took the Creta for the drive to Ajanta and El­lora and en­joyed its tire­less driv­ing man­ners, but a lot of the SUV DNA the Creta gets is from the Santa Fe. The Santa Fe comes with an AWD ap­pli­ca­tion too and all-wheel drive SUVs come with multi-link sus­pen­sion at the rear, as this set up in­creases their abil­ity when you drive off the road. The Santa Fe is more road-bi­ased but the ben­e­fits of the multi-link rear sus­pen­sion can be seen on road as well. Each wheel of the Santa Fe is in­de­pen­dently sus­pended, giv­ing it not only bet­ter ride but also aid­ing in corner­ing.

Multi-link sus­pen­sion is a mod­ern take on the dou­ble wish­bone set up. It comes with four or more con­trol arms that in­crease the com­plex­ity of the unit but give it more flex­i­bil­ity to dif­fer­ent loads than joined sus­pen­sions like tor­sion beams. An­other fea­ture in the Santa Fe that im­proves driv­ing dy­nam­ics is flex steer that of­fers three steer­ing modes – nor­mal, sport and com­fort. Nor­mal gives medium weight to the steer­ing, sport is when it weighs up more for en­thu­si­as­tic driv­ing, and com­fort makes the steer­ing light for driv­ing in thick traf­fic.

More tech in the Santa Fe that makes it a bet­ter driver’s SUV is the Ad­vanced Trac­tion Corner­ing Con­trol (ATCC) sys­tem, which es­sen­tially is a torque vec­tor­ing sys­tem that sends more torque to the wheels that of­fer the best grip in a cor­ner. It also ap­plies mea­sured brak­ing to the in­side rear wheel to tighten the line and pre­vent the SUV from un­der­steer­ing.

Hyundai’s SUVs have come a long way since the launch of the Ter­ra­can and Tuc­son in the last decade. The im­prove­ment in these years is tremen­dous and the com­pe­tency of the Creta and the Santa Fe makes us very op­ti­mistic about the up­com­ing new gen­er­a­tion Tuc­son. SUVs are made for the high­way, for trips out of town and be it the Creta or the Santa Fe, both are very com­fort­able com­pan­ions when you de­cide to go tour­ing.

At the end of the day the Creta was a fan­tas­tic fa­cil­i­ta­tor to get to the caves. These her­itage sites have such amaz­ing his­tory to show­case yet get very lit­tle at­ten­tion be­cause un­less you step into these caves, you don’t re­alise the ef­fort gone into mak­ing them. From the out­side they are meant to be hid­den, they are caves af­ter all. But in­side, you will be awestruck.

THE CAVES ARE HIGHLY EX­PRES­SIVE, SO IF YOU HAVE A KEEN EYE, YOU WILL BE AWESTRUCK

Above: The horse­shoe shaped rock face in which the 29 caves have been carved out. Right: The Creta’s sure­foot­ed­ness makes it an ex­cel­lent SUV on high­ways

Left: All the caves of Ajanta and a ma­jor­ity of El­lora caves show Bud­dhist in­flu­ence. Be­low: Just ham­mers and chis­els built all of this

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