The Brezza Ventures Abroad | Leg 1
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      The Brezza Ventures Abroad | Leg 1

      Car India takes the Vitara Brezza on an ambitious journey that spans three nations and nearly 3,000 kilometres.

      Story: Harket Suchde Photography: Saurabh Botre

      If you follow Car India on the regular, you know that we do really like our #RoadTrips. There’s no better way to get to grips with a car than to get in, drive off, and post some serious numbers on the odo. Which brings us to the #VitaraBrezza and this drive. For a journey this massive, you need a car with some serious cred. Well, the Vitara Brezza has it – our Automobile of the Year and ICOTY winner from a few years back, one of the most loved compact #SUVs in India, and the first in its segment to hit four lakh sales. So far, so impressive. But what happens when you show the Brezza some serious action in terrain that changes from low-lying and rainy to high-altitude and freezing? How will it cope with being driven hard down a highway, careening around corners in mountain passes, and bounding across mud roads and broken tarmac? Well, like I said before, only one way to find out. Get in, get going, and start clocking those miles.

      So, I did just that; beginning our journey at our home nation’s capital, #NewDelhi. When in Delhi, you can’t ignore the #IndiaGate. This memorial to the fallen soldier is right at the heart of town and one of the city’s most prominent monuments. After paying our respects and sending out a silent prayer for a safe journey through the cosmos, we set off. Our first stop, the #RashtrapatiBhavan just down the road. Because, again, when in Delhi, how can you not drop by and see this absolutely majestic structure? After driving to the President’s pad, we finally headed out of Delhi and on to one of my favourite places in the national capital region.

      The #YamunaExpressway is a 165-km stretch of pure, pristine, unblemished tarmac that connects #Delhi to #Agra and is one of India’s best roads to drive on. The fact that it leads to the #BuddhInternationalCircuit is a bonus. I ignored the Circuit this time around, though, for I had bigger fish to fry. Now, the variant of the Brezza we had comes with a 1.3-litre DDiS 200 #TurboDiesel #engine that churns out, as the name suggests, 200 Nm of #torque and 88.7 bhp (90 hp) and is mated to a five-speed manual transmission. It also had a feature that I was quick to take advantage of: #CruiseControl. I had my phone hooked up to the touchscreen through #AndroidAuto, my music thumping, my blood pumping, and the #Brezza just devoured those 165 kilometres as I sat back and enjoyed the ride.

      The cruising didn’t end there either, because there’s yet another #highway that links Agra and #Lucknow, which is nearly as good and just as easy to use cruise control on. There was a time that a truck coming down the wrong side gave me a mild panic, but with #ABS with #EBD on hand, I needn’t have worried at all. The #SUV brakes smoothly and evenly without any drama, even when you pound on the brakes hard because there’s a lazy, idiotic trucker barrelling down your lane from the wrong end.

      As I moved on from the errant trucker and continued towards my destination, the heavens opened up. Before I could reach forward and dab the controls for the wipers, they came on and started swatting those pesky droplets away. Yeah, the Brezza has #RainSensingWipers and I enjoyed the #freedom from monitoring the rain and its varying speeds to the hilt, thank you very much.

      Luckily, I arrived in Lucknow bone dry and without further incident and, with the daylight fading, set off to do some exploration. The #CityOfNawabs is called so because of its long history as the stronghold of the #AwadhEmpire and it has some spellbinding #architecture from this era for you to admire. #RumiDarwaza welcomes you to “old” Lucknow and, wow, this gate is big. The sheer scale of its size isn’t apparent from pictures, but when you see it up close for the first time, it will take your breath away. And that’s before you notice the sheer intricacy of the carvings across every inch of its surface. Immediately beyond the Gate, you’ll spot the #BaraImambara and #ChotaImambara. Both these complexes have Persian style buildings that are completely different in design but share a certain enthralling beauty and old-world charm.

      Having had my fill of exploration, it was time to bed in at the hotel; after all, I was crossing my first border on this #trip the following day. I woke up bright and early with that particular thought still playing around in mind and set off for #Sonauli and the #IndoNepal border.

      The #roads were a lot less smooth and straight than on the previous day, but a lack of different roads makes for a boring trip anyway. And the Brezza handled the narrower, often broken tarmac, no problem. The #suspension soaked up all the rough bits, leaving the SUV’s passengers and this driver comfortable and jitter-free. Anyway, by the time I reached the border, dotted all the bureaucratic and crossed all the paperwork it was night already, and I wanted to see a bulk of #Nepal properly in full light, so we bunked down at #Butwal, 25 km beyond the border, for the night.

      The next morning, we were off again. And then began the climb. The winding, twisting, contorting roads with tight hairpins and blind corners. Sounds daunting? It wasn’t. Not in the Brezza. Its commanding #DrivingPosition gave me a #ClearView of what was up ahead, and its perfectly-weighted #steering and sorted set-up meant I could #hustle through the corners without losing my composure. As we climbed higher, I started to drive slower. Not because the going got challenging, but because the vistas on offer were just too mesmerising to ignore. When you see a clear blue sky, a lush green valley and nothing at all in the way, all the way to the horizon where the two meet, in a blurry embrace, it forces you to stop and stare and keep stealing glances when you get going again.

      Once I got closer to our destination, #Pokhara, for the day, the views just continued getting better. And since I entered the city under the cloak of darkness, I didn’t even know that the best was yet to come. My hotel was on the #lakeside, so I knew I’d see some pretty sights from the hotel’s #rooftop. But when I huffed and puffed up the rickety spiral stairs and looked out, I had the urge to pinch myself. I was standing in a valley, nestled within snow-capped #mountain peaks on three sides and tree-covered ones on the fourth. The #PhewaLake sprawled across my left, reflecting the deep azure dotted-with-white of the sky and the snow-whitened tops of the peaks on its calm surface. Magical.

      I was in love already, but I needed a better angle, so we piled into the Brezza and I drove up to #AnaduHill nearby and then hiked up to the #WorldPeacePagoda. The brilliant white monument shimmered in the sunlight, its gilded tip blazing like a beacon. Built in 1999, this #BuddhistStupa is 115 feet tall and is split into two tiers. Apparently, its building caused quite a stir and was an uphill battle too. Today, complete and standing proud, it is an enigmatic structure that hosts statues of #Buddha from Nepal, #Thailand, #Japan, and #SriLanka. There is a #photography point at a resto near the #Pagoda complex where the crew and I also found that elusive different angle to the Phewa Lake and the #Annapurna massif surrounding it. Pokhara is a contemporary tourist town, seeing as it is the base for the famous Annapurna #trek, so we had plenty of food and shopping options to explore while there as well.

      We couldn’t dwell long, though; the call of #adventure was too strong. So, we set off into the mountains again, this time for the national capital of Nepal. The road from Pokhara to Kathmandu was quite smooth to begin with, so the going was quick. The Brezza has such poise when you take it through a fast corner, belying its SUV leanings and feeling like a hatchback when you dab on the brakes and give the steering a hefty yank. Time flies by when you’re having fun and soon enough, we were nearly at #Kathmandu. I spotted a very curious thing as I made my way close to the city, though. The road was being encroached on by haphazardly parked vehicles and throngs of people watching something unfold below. As I got closer, I realized it was a football match. Didn’t look like a national league affair or anything like that either, but the punters were queueing up inside and outside the field to catch the action. I so wanted to join them, but, sadly, reaching our hotel was the priority. The haphazardly parked vehicles, by the way, no problem for me. The Brezza took care of that too. It has #ProximitySensors, nice, big, electronically adjustable #WingMirrors and a #ReverseCamera for those tight-squeeze situations. Having made it to the hotel, it was time to get some grub and then grab a fistful of shuteye. There were more adventures around the corner.

      While the first leg of the journey ends here, in the following issue, we pick up from where we left off and set off to explore Kathmandu, get back to India, and then cross over to Bhutan before coming home again.

      Vitara Brezza | AGS | EBD | Rain-Sensing Wipers | Reverse Camera | Electronically Adjustable Wing Mirrors | Commanding Driving Position | 1.3-litre DDiS 200 | Turbo Diesel | Cruise Control | Android Auto | Automobile of the Year | ICOTY | ICOTY 2017 | Compact SUV | SUV