• Special feature Catch them young

A road trip in the Hyundai Alcazar, with the family, to introduce the little one to new things in life!

Road trips help us escape from our routines and explore new places. But what makes them special is when you hit the road with your loved ones. This time for me, it turned out to be my daughter’s summer vacations and the resultant boredom! As a parent, it’s also my responsibility to introduce her to new things in life and the question thus was how do I club a road trip to a purpose? I wanted the weekend to be more than just another trip to a hill station. A bit of research had me discover Bhilar, a tiny village right next to the hill stations of Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar, about 120km away.

Bhilar is recognized as India’s first ‘village of books’ and with the daughter having turned six, sounded like a great place to introduce her to reading.

Reading helps us learn a lot and getting hooked onto books early in life introduced me to many things I would not have without reading. I thus planned the trip to Bhilar in the Hyundai Alcazar, an SUV that’s been quick to carve its niche as a premium, three-row family SUV. I also found this to be a good opportunity to introduce the daughter to camping by planning an overnight stay in tents, adding an element of adventure.

The Hyundai Alcazar made light of the highway drive with the third generation 2.0-litre MPI petrol engine under its hood putting out a best-in-class 159PS and 191Nm. Adding to convenience was the six-speed automatic, while steering wheel mounted paddle shifters made for a sporty feel. The engine refinement, linear torque spread and seamless gearshifts ensure excellent comfort. A rotary dial lets you choose driving modes from Eco, Comfort and Sport which alter the driving experience to suit your mood. The 10.25-inch multi-display instrument cluster also changes themes depending on the mode chosen, adding to the Alcazar’s likeable feel.

Its interiors help the Alcazar stand out as a very premium SUV, especially with the dual tone, cognac brown and black theme, overall cabin layout and of course, the panoramic sunroof. An automatic air purifier with AQI display ensures occupants breathe clean air, while the leather seats accentuate the luxury quotient with their plushness. Rear window shades add to comfort along with the automatic climate control system, besides which the Alcazar’s ventilated front seats are a boon.

The second row captain seats feel plush and you get a set of tray tables behind the front seatbacks, which the daughter was very happy to discover and use. The second row is also equipped with a smartphone wireless charger and USB port, besides the third row also gets dedicated blower control and USB ports. Access to the third row is easy thanks to the one-touch flip and tumble function for the second row. For us, flipping the third row down ensured we had ample space for luggage and our camping equipment, making the Alcazar perfect for a road trip.

Driving to Bhilar was easy thanks to the Alcazar’s Blue Link connected technology and navigation system. As we ascended towards the hill station the Alcazar felt nimble and agile in the hills, despite its large footprint, while the steering offering a perfectly weighted feel. This impressive demeanour continued in the narrow bylanes of the village. On reaching Bhilar, I discovered the village is a book reader’s paradise.

It was thrown open as the ‘village of books’ in 2017 by the state government with a view to promote Marathi literature and reading, and one can read over 35,000 books in the language there, free of cost!

Villagers also opened up their homes and every other corner has a signboard mentioning what genre of books you can read there. Over 35 homes have been turned into miniature libraries besides halls, hotels and restaurants, with owners inviting tourists to indulge in reading. Before we realised, we’d spent the better part of the afternoon going around the village, exploring various books – fiction, children’s books, biographies and more! The daughter was intrigued and excited to read, something I was happy to note.

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