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Straight dRive

Pramod Singh travelled all the way from his Rishra home to City Centre in Salt Lake on Friday morning to fulfil a dream. “I have test-driven a Harley Davidson Fatboy and SuperLo but this is the superbike I want,” said the businessman, standing next to a Hyosung ST7 at the State Bank of India presents The Telegraph Auto Weekend Carnival powered by Yamaha.

The 700cc mean machine occupied pride of place in the Korean company’s stall. Its looks and power sealed the deal for Singh, a bike collector who has a Yamaha R15, a Karizma ZMR and a Royal Enfield Bullet in his garage. His 10-year-old son was as excited at the prospect of getting on the hot wheels as his father, who wrote a cheque for Rs 7.24 lakh to take home the bike.

Hyosung, which is showcasing the GT 650R and GT 650N apart from the ST7, has attracted a steady footfall since the curtains went up on the carnival on Friday.

Sourav Basu from Barasat and his friend Tanumoy Das were also checking out the wheel deals on the first day of the auto fair. “We are here to check out bikes with powerful engines and diesel cars. Sports bikes are generally not for Indian roads but the Hyosung 650cc naked bike is quite interesting,” said Basu, who owns a Bajaj Pulsar and a Lancer, while Das rides a Yamaha R15 and drives a Fiat Punto.

If the men made a beeline for the bikes, PYTs with parents in tow were casting glances at Yamaha Ray, a 113cc scooterette available in purple, pink, blue and burgundy.

Among four-wheelers, Maruti Suzuki was the top draw with its new Alto 800. Subhasish Biswas from Salt Lake, Rabindranath Banerjee from Bangur Avenue and many others were queuing up for a touch-feel-drive.

Giving Alto competition was Chevy’s new hatch, Sail U-VA. Vishesh Saha from Hazra, who had come to the carnival determined to book a Maruti Suzuki Swift, started having second thoughts after seeing Sail.

“I don’t need a car. My office is just below my home. The car will be a Diwali gift for my wife and I want to book it by the 13th of this month,” he said.

Though launched a year ago, the Honda Brio continued to elicit queries as visitors checked out its glass boot lid. The Brio was a hit at last year’s carnival too.

Anirban Dasgupta, who had come to City Centre to catch an evening show of the latest Bond flick, Skyfall, decided to make a round of the carnival. “I am checking out the models and the prices but the final decision will be made by my father, who used to drive a Premier Padmini,” said Dasgupta. Asked what he liked, he said: “Today, one is spoilt for choice…. I quite like the Toyota Corolla Altis.”

For Bidisha Banerjee, it was the diesel Ford Fiesta that would replace the Tata Indigo petrol in her garage. Her husband Abhijit, who works for Cisco, joined her at the carnival. “This is a good place to check out all the sedans. Apart from the Fiesta, I am also considering the Nissan Sunny,” said Abhijit.

Not everyone was at the carnival for a new ride. A group of boys from the neighbouring Mani Karn estate trooped into the Kund area on their way to PizzaHut. “We are here for a friend’s birthday but got sidetracked by the cars. It is exciting to see so many of them altogether,” said Vishal Mundhra, who studies in DPS Megacity and watches Discovery Turbo channel in his spare time. He along with birthday boy Nitish Agarwal, who studies in Bangalore, stood slack jawed before the Mahindra Verito.

Wheel hop with star sleuth

When Abir Chatterjee walked into City Centre Salt Lake’s Kund area on Friday afternoon to inaugurate the three-day State Bank of India presents The Telegraph Auto Weekend Carnival powered by Yamaha, it wasn’t just a fleet of cars and bikes from Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Yamaha, Ford, Maruti, Mahindra, Volkswagen, Chevrolet, Toyota and Hyosung waiting for him. The wheels were outnumbered by Bomkesh Bakshi fans, with whom the dapper star posed for pictures. He also checked out the main attractions. Metro was there with him…

Next stop was the dickey of the Ford Figo. “It’s a smart and nice model,” said Abir.
The actor slipped into Hyundai’s Neo Fluidic Elantra and adjusted the seat height. “They told me that the car has dual AC. That’s a nice feature,” he said.
“I am a Maruti loyalist. We have three Marutis. When it comes to oil efficiency, comfort and after-sales service, Maruti rocks!” Abir said while inspecting this Maruti Alto. The first car that he had bought was a white Maruti 800. “I used to find it difficult to get in and out of it! That was four years ago. I could not afford anything else back then,” he recollected. Now he sits at the wheel of a Maruti Suzuki Dzire. “It is a Maruti and I am very happy with the legspace,” he said.
“You want me to sit on this pink Yamaha Ray? I don’t have a problem! Actually, I should be riding the pillion here!” said the screen Bomkesh. “I am wondering who will give me a ride on this one, I want someone who will not drop me!” he added. Abir’s choice No.1? Parineeti ‘Ishaqzaade’ Chopra! “She is superb! But if I am riding it, I want Scarlett Johansson on the pillion!” Abir signed off. He also visited the stalls of Nissan, Mahindra, Volkswagen, Chevrolet and Toyota.

Text: Saionee Chakraborty
Pictures: Anindya Shankar Ray