This month we surpass 900; the number of total independent Test Drives and Rides done by us in the Motor magazine. Of these, over 100 Test Rides were done by our dedicated Test Rider Dilip Vazirani, who continues to do this job which rally is a very specialized task.
We pioneered independent Test Drives in Sri Lanka back in 1996, a year after the magazine was first published primarily as a Motor Trading magazine. It might come as a surprise to some of you younger folk here, that Motor was also the first in Sri Lanka in the print media (there was no digital media then anyway) to carry Classified advertisements of vehicles with a photo!
If you rewind the clock, you may find that this was a time when cameras were either “instamatic” (fixed lens) or SLR (minus the ‘D’ in front – Single Lens Reflex) – all of which used film rolls! So we would capture the photos “blind” and hope for the best - that the photos would turn out well when they were developed. Yes, we had photographers visiting each seller of a vehicle to capture photographs! We had to wait at least a couple of days after a Test Drive photo-shoot or capturing the photo of a vehicle that was for sale; to find out if in fact the photos turned out okay! And if they didn’t turn out the way we expected – for example the light settings were wrong - we would have to start again with taking the car back to the location and shooting the photos. There was no Photoshop for colour/light correction or any “editing” of photos for that matter – remember? The next step in the process was scanning of the printed photos; not drag & drop on a computer screen as it is done today!
This month we have tested the MINI Clubman with the famous barn doors. The MINI brand always has had an element of “fun” attached to it, and Ashraaq who tested the car aptly sums it up when he says “If you are an attention seeker, be assured that it does turn heads, but it is most likely that you will be having too much fun to notice”!
The Suzuki Wagon R, even though seen in numbers on our roads already; was driven by us, this being the first time we have tested it with the AMT Transmission.
Then of course we have tested the locally assembled Micro BAIC X25. This ‘test car’ had been taken apart and put back together by the engineers at Micro’s plant to understand it’s workings, and it had been driven around the country on tests! A testament to how this car is built: “…there was no indication at all of the harder than usual life it had led up to our test” says Ashraaq.