Reva could be one of the most successful and probably, the only talked about automobile manufacturing start-up of the country. The company was set-up from 1994. In the year 2010, Mahindra Group's passenger car segment acquired Reva renaming the company, Mahindra Reva. Their first offering, which shared the name with the company was in production until the last year when the company replaced it with their all-new Mahindra Reva e2O.

The earlier Reva, which was also sold in the UK under the name G-wizz was a peculiar car. Its dimensions were tiny and so was the space inside. It could barely accommodate a couple of small children in the back which just managing to house two mid sized adults in the front. The front row of seats was far from comfortable as well. The only people who refrained from making fun of the car were the people who owned one. It was the butt of so many jokes that some Reva cars sported a bumper sticker that read, "Think before you laugh at me because your children are going to laugh at the way you have treated the planet". There were service issues too as the company's operations remained predominantly Bangalore centric.

With the original Reva, this appeal to ones "green" side was the only usp apart from the perpetually rising fuel costs. It was almost like the car made a statement, "I know I am ugly. I know I am small. I know I am slow. I know my range can't get worse. So what? I am green!"

A lot seems to have changed in the world as a whole and with the company since those days. The acquisition has proved to be the much needed boost for the company not only to boost their R&D for new products but also to increase the reach by piggybacking on Mahindra's already existing, strong nationwide network. So things seem to be moving in the right direction.

Let us now come to the core of the whole offering, the current product. The first impressions of the e2O are a lot different from its predecessor. It appears a lot more "regular-car" like. A lot of it has to do with its tall boy design and the fact that people have accepted cars like the Nano and the Eon on the road. Especially in a market like India, this is a big and in my opinion one of the most significant improvements. Function defining form is a philosophy that doesn't always work when it comes to cars in India. They need to look conventional to some degree.

Take a walk around the car and you notice so many things that re-iterate the focus of the company to make the e2O as close to a conventional car as possible. The efforts of the designers in this direction are apparent. Look at the front headlight assembly or the tail lamp module. Not only are they in keeping with the times but in one aspect, a step ahead. They indicators are all LED. The car boasts of dent resistant polymer body panels which is such a boon in the city traffic.

Once you step into the driver's seat, you immediately seem to be reminded of the Tata Nano.  The driving position of the car is extremely similar to that of the Tata Nano. The overall dimensions are similar too! The windows are large and offer acceptable all-round visibility unlike the small and sliding ones in the old car.

The cabin is as equipped as any fully loaded hot hatch in the country if not more. The side view mirrors are electrically adjustable. The car has only two doors and both are equipped with power windows. The placement of the same is also like the Nano, next to the gear lever. The center console houses a two din touch screen infotainment system. The entertainment system plays music from every thinkable source. From radio to iPhone/iPod to SD cards. It is probably the only car in its price segment to be installed with a GPS Navigation system. The MyCar menu option displays a lot of data related to the car, its battery charge, your driving performance with regards to economy and instantaneous consumption of the power. Having said that the quality of the unit is found to be wanting looking at the price point of the car, which we will get to in sometime. But these features do enhance the usability of the car in the routine city situations. One more aspect that is a boon when it comes to the city driving is the overall size of the car. It is only when you park in a marked parking lot do you realize how small the car is. You suddenly notice the space that exists between the Reva and the neighbouring cars.

The ergonomics of the Reva's interiors are just about alright overall apart inspite of couple of jarring examples. If you try to shift into the F (Forward) gear while taking off from a signal, your wrist hits the employed hand brake lever. The foot well is acceptably large but the pedals are not exactly aligned to the regular square-on driving position. The brake and the accelerator pedals a indented slightly to the left. This is something that you notice when you spend significant amount of time in the car and can cause some strain in your right foot. The wiper stalk is so big that it comes in your line of vision while looking at the infotainment system. This could be because the steering wheel is a tad larger compared to the overall scale of the vehicle.

Coming to the drive train. We drove the car for over a week and covered over a 100 kms. Not once did we find the car underpowered for the routine city needs. We drove it through smaller roads where the car did provide the necessary power for the quick overtake and on wider ring roads, the car was seen to be able to hold its own. It clearly does not belong to the the right lane but certainly can make the middle lane its own. All this is without the use of the 'Boost' gear which provides the optional additional thrust for a fast climb of the flyover or an overtake. Overall, a huge improvement over its predecessor. Another aspect that you notice when you spend some time with the car is a missing parking gear.

The brakes require getting used to. Press the pedal and there is nothing for most of the travel and suddenly there is all of the braking force. This behaviour is pretty much the opposite of how turbo lag feels. To add to this you sit high up and that can bring about a sense of instability and you get a sense of being thrown forward but one does get used to after a few hours of driving.

On the central infotainment display, the car shows you how efficiently you have been driving. On the front dash, an indicator (equivalent to a tachometer in conventional cars)  shows you whether your current driving is economical. The dash also tells you when the car is recharging the batteries, which is, every times you decelerate or brake. The car shows you your carbon credits. It displays the amount of petroleum that you have saved by driving an electric car.

All this does tend to tease that small dimension of your sensibilities that actually cares for nature.

We found it very difficult to come to a decisive verdict on the car. On the up side, the car is conventional. Is loaded with the almost top of the line bells and whistles. On the flip side, the quality of the interiors is rather ordinary which raises questions about durability. Coming to the single factor that helped us make up our mind. The price. The car costs more than 7,00,000. That is a price within which a prospective buyer can buy any premium hot hatch. If one buys a cheaper car, may be a Hyundai Eon or a Tata Nano which are not only as big, but much better built and have proper four doors, the low running cost of the E2O is offset and that too by a big margin. A prospective buyer would be justified in asking a question, “Why the E2O when I can buy an entry level Polo, Swift, i20 or Punto or a top end i10 and buy a costlier car with a compromise?” The only answer that can save the day for the car is the environment friendly angle. The fact that the car does reduce your carbon footprint. Even with help from the government in the form of tax concessions, this car would have to be a lot more to draw a buyer away from a routine hot hatch.



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