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Sunday, 19 December 2010

Voila! volvo

I am not the frequent bus commuter. Never was either. The few tiffs that I had had with these annoyingly large multi-wheeled vehicles are best left untold, for times' sake, and for the sake of not beating-about-the-bush.

But then things happen which make you go "Voila! How wrong I was" and make you change your stance towards things. Which is what happened as a side-effect after my Goa trip, which you might just remember from my previous post.

I am, if you've been following the story of my life closely, currently anchored at Pune, and shall be leaving for Cal in a few hours. So the trip to Goa which I was party to, happened from Pune, and hell, it happened in one heck of a delightful manner.

Courtesy Volvo.



Yes, you guessed it right. It was a Volvo multi-axle semi-sleeper coach that did the monumental task of transporting myself and several others from Pune to Goa. That too, in the lap of luxury.

The ten-and-a-half-hour long journey, whose mere first mention had sent an involuntary shudder down my spine, eventually left the generally verbose me lost for words. And with good reason too. My fascination for all wheeled-contraptions compelled me to do some homework after I returned, and the results I arrived at were pretty interesting. Or at least, they are to the auto-enthusiast.

The coach that had taken me from Pune to Goa, was a certain Volvo B9R.

For those who are trying to stifle their yawns now, can freely choose not to, and navigate away to this page. For the rare ones who are falling off their seats in excitement can join me for the rest of this fascinating journey.

A Volvo B9R is, as I have mentioned earlier, a multi-axle semi-sleeper coach. Using the British policy of Divide and School, let us fragment the hieroglyphics in the above line to facilitate better understanding for those who are groping about in the dark.

Multi-axle == more than two axles. Which simply translates to, it has more wheels than the ordinary bus.
Semi-sleeper == er ... half sleeper. Meaning where you sleep, but then again, where you don't.

multi-axle clear now?
The technical specifications however are far less literary, and more ... technical (sorry for the redundancy). The power-train is a massive 9 litre 6 cylinder diesel engine that generates a staggering 380 horsepower and an equally gargantuan 1740 N-m of torque. (If this sounded gibberish to you, then you should have left this page long back. Don't look at me like that! I warned you!) And this does a more than exemplary job at making this blue whale scrunch down miles and miles of expressway with the most consummate ease. The coach is 13.7 metres long, and no, don't ask me what the width is. No one cares. It seats 53 homo-sapiens effortlessly and has cutting edge safety features including EBS (Electronic Braking System ), all wheel disc-brakes, and air-suspension, all of which are firsts in this country. What's more, it even comes with an on-board computer which feeds in brakes and suspension related data to the rare computer-savvy driver.

I am assuming that the orange LCD screen is the on-board computer.
But what really stole the show in this mighty machine was the galactic levels of comfort it pampers you with. The moment you sink into one of these outworldly seats, you feel a sense of bliss like no other. Recline the seat backward. Raise the lumbar supports, and you could well mistake the experience with that of being in a private jet, complete with all creature comforts.

the heavenly seats. And guess what, I can now semi-sleep.
I got a tad too lucky with the front row seat that day, as a result of which I had the additional advantage of having the seemingly endless windscreen r-i-g-h-t in front of me. When the journey began, it was an unexpectedly quaint affair. The virtually air-tight cabin had completely muffled the otherwise deafening roar of the engine, and the bus, with all it's air-suspension wizardry and thick tubeless radials seemed to gobble up the potholes and irregularities of theGreatIndianRoads without a hiccup.

Yet another impressive thing I noticed was the incredibly small turning radius. I have driven a Toyota Qualis and for a car of that size, it is surprisingly agile around corners. But for the 13.7 metre long mammoth that it is, this beast executed U-turns and other letter-like turns in the manner that could have left many large luxury saloons burying their heads in shame.

Well, that's that. I wish I had driven it too, then I would have been able to give more details regarding its performance, engine and transmission (:P) but well ... I can rest assured now, that I have started loving buses.

Or so I hope.
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