Let’s start with the business end of the things. Not only the Quanto sits on a chopped chassis, but its engine is chopped too. So we were eager to find out what’s packed into the new mCR100 motor which is derived from the 2.2 litre mHawk.
Having the three pot motors’ traditional imbalance in mind, I actually prepared myself for a thrummy startup but the Quanto didn’t make much of a noise and at idling, felt like a normal four cylinder engine. And at idling, the engine hits the limiter at 3,000 rpm to prevent any damage.
It was when easing off the clutch that a gruff voice emanated under the hood and the NVH package did very little to keep the occupants away from it. The noise only grew louder with every centimeter of the throttle travel and one is forced to shift to second gear as soon as possible. The Quanto's diesel heart gets quieter progressively as you move up the cogs and gets unobtrusive only while cruising under 3,000 rpm.
Our test car had clocked only few kilometers and we do hope that the engine becomes quieter once it runs in.
The progress is steady but not as strong as the 98.6 bhp would have you believe. The power wades off at 3,500 rpm and keeping the throttle pinned down till the 4,500 rpm limiter only contributes to the noise pollution.
That said, the twin stage turbocharger does a commendable job. Accompanied by an audible turbo whiz, the engine starts pulling as early as 1,500 rpm, however let it drop below that and there is an annoying shudder in the drivetrain that filters in through the clutch pedal and gear knob and even the dashboard, forcing you to downshift.
Once you get used to the character of the engine, it’s not all that difficult to keep it in the vibration-free state, but you need to alter your driving style to suit the engine and you can do nothing about the noise.
The gear knob is nice to grip and the long throw gearbox is easy to shift, but the clutch is on the heavier side and gives your thigh muscles a thorough workout in a bumper to bumper traffic. The foot well is spacious enough and the inclusion of dead pedal is appreciated over long distance cruising.
The seating position is high, the glass area is huge and offers good visibility but the height brings in top heavy feeling as an unwanted byproduct. The front seats are comfortable and come with lumbar adjustment on both the seats and height adjustment for the driver. We would have liked an extra bit of under thigh support though.
The brakes are safe but a little difficult to modulate at slow speeds. The ABS kicks in a bit late, especially under panic braking situations and we actually managed to lock the wheels everytime under sudden and heavy high speed braking.
The steering wheel, which is borrowed from the Scorpio, is just the right size and is fabulous to grip, if only it offered consistency and feel. The tall and softly sprung Quanto is not a corner carver; there is a fair amount body roll. Negotiating a corner with spirits is better done when there are no passengers.
Ride quality is good at city speeds but the soft sprung suspension gets bumpy as the speeds build up and there is lot of vertical movement due to road undulations.
The HVAC unit cools the cabin effectively and the sound from the audio system is decent.
The micro-hybrid system which can be switched off, kills the engine in 5 seconds unlike the Scorpio and Bolero which take longer. The start-stop system comes with an On/Off button situated between the centre AC vents.
The sub-four metre dimension of the Quanto come in handy in city confines. Making U-turns and slotting into tight parking spaces are a breeze, thanks to the Quanto's small turning radius.
Now, coming to the quintessential Indian question that you have been waiting for, the fuel economy! This is where the Quanto excels. While we didn't have chance to do an accurate mileage test, our approximate calculation was consistent with the on-board real time average fuel economy calculator and worked out to be around 14 kmpl, which is not at all bad since most of our driving involved a heavy right foot or a low gear ambling within the city.
In a nutshell, the Quanto is a reasonably good car to drive in the city, but powertrain feels like an unfinished package, and leaves a lot to be desired in refinement and dynamics department.