Cars come and go but iconic vehicles stay back. They may not be there on the roads as much as the SUV or the Sedan one might spot between serials on TV but they sure are the first thing that comes to mind when one talks about car. Such is the image these vehicles create and the impact they have on the everyday vehicles in the country. One such remarkable and popular vehicle is Hindustan Motors’ Ambassador. It was not a completely Indian vehicle though.
The car is an adaptation of the Morris Oxford III model. While the Ambassador has been an instant it since its launch in 1958, the success of the car increased over the years due to its study look, basic design and decent power capabilities. The objective of an Ambassador is simple. It is a car designed to transport passengers from one place to another. It may not be the quickest of the means to transport, powerful vehicles to ride but it certainly has that awe factor to it that cannot be replaced by anything else. The car is fondly called as the King of the Roads and it definitely is indeed one of the most relatable cars that was synonymous with the very word car over the years. The car was actually crowned as the World’s Best Taxi by none other than BBC Top Gear.
However years passed and the car no longer seemed contemporary enough to hit high on sales. The image of the ride of powerful and strong went on to the foreign vehicles and the car gradually slipped into the hands of taxi walas. It is not a bad thing though, the car still is one of the most impressive automobile designs ever run in this country. Even to this date, many bureaucrats regard this vehicle as a symbol of excellence and power and prefer using this as their official commuter.
Again, Ambassador is definitely no match to the interiors of Renault or BMW but it does offer what it promises. Subtle class. The vehicle never over do any of the interiors. Following a minimalistic approach of design, the car features two seats in the front and a singular bench structure in the rear row. The interiors are undeniably spacious and are the best assets of the car. The front row offers amazing legroom and headroom. The rear row gives a decent knee space.
The height of 1593 mm act as a quantifier of the interior head space. The vehicle is proudly huge and this makes the interiors ever so luxurious in their own right. The leather seats and the standard seating do seem routine but the amount of customization possible with an Ambassador is way more than probably any other vehicle with all the political vehicles and taxis running around the country throughout decades.
The mileage of the vehicle is 7.47 km/kg CNG in cities while the number reaches 10.94 km/kg CNG on highways. Running on CNG the four cylindered engine might be expected to offer better mileage but the car does not leave its roots. The diesel variant however offers a relatively better mileage. Keeping its stature intact, the low mileage is however made up by the promising fuel tank capacity.
Performance and Handling
With Independent front suspension along with torsion bar springs and anti-roll bar equipped with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock absorbers and Semi-elliptical leaf springs with hydraulic telescopic double acting shock
absorbers and metallic bushes in the rear, the vehicle offers one of the most successful, tried and tested suspension systems.
The vehicle does have a lot of competition mainly because it did not keep up its pace with other automobiles in general. Though there was not one particular competition to this vehicle, there sure is a car that ignited the decline of the Ambassador, Maruti 800. It was after 800 that Maruti Udyog became the biggest automobile company in India taking away the throne from HM. However, present day competitions considered, the threat HM Ambassador faces is from bulky family cars like Maruti Swift, compact crossovers like Ford EcoSport etc. However the competition is easy to get in with the Ambassador due to the underpowered innovation in their automobiles.
Talking about the exteriors of HM Ambassador is like trying to express the square of geometry. It is no overstatement. Most of the infographics of cars feature silhouettes of Maruti Ambassador. The car is everywhere. It can be seen as a taxi in a metropolitan while it can also be witnessed as an official commuter with red lights on it, being used by a politician. The exteriors are interesting in their own right. The car seems bulky but it is not curvy. The wheel arches do not ooze out like swollen metal but they rather stay firm and intact. The front fascia of the car features the highly renown subtle front grill which is wide and extends to the corners of the headlamps. The front bumper is usually chrome colored and helps in reducing the collision impacts of the vehicle.
The real muscles of the vehicle are however visible in the front fascia itself. The headlamps are traditional circular shaped and they extend along the bonnet as subtle embedded cylindrical shapes that put themselves different from the vehicle’s otherwise straight design. The bonnet itself has a pinched look with a slight design protrusion going on the front part. This subtle pinch along with the embedded cylindrical shapes are what make the Ambassador legacy stay strong. The front fascia features an interesting design and so does the rare. Though the rear extension is not as big as the front, like present day sedans Ambassador has a decent boot space with the boot door being large enough to fit plenty of truck. If any doubts regarding the sanctity of the boot space of this legendary vehicle, check your television for mid 90’s films and there will always be a bad guy stuffed inside the boot. If a boot is big enough to fit in a person, it sure is big enough for luggage.
The width of the vehicle is 1662 mm and the length extends to 4325 mm. The ground clearance offered by the vehicle is pretty versatile considering the 152 mm measurement. This spacious ground clearance makes the vehicle suitable for both urban as well as rural rides.
Engine & Transmission
Hindustan Motors Ambassador comes with a four cylinder OHV engine. The former 1817 cc OHC engine runs on CNG churning out a maximum output of 75 PS at 5000 rpm while the torque reaches a peak of 130 Nm at 3000 rpm.
However the 1489 cc diesel engine offers a promising 35.5 bhp output at 4000 rpm and the torque hits a peak of 7.44 kgm @ 2250 rpm. The manual transmission of the vehicle makes things seem a bit nostalgic with every ride.
Braking and Safety
Hindustan Motors Ambassador comes with Servo Assisted Disc Brakes in the front and Drum brakes with auto adjusters in the rare. The sturdy design of the vehicle allows it to give a much refined safety which not most of the present day automobiles can promise. There were worst everyday accidents which hardly forced an Ambassador to have a dent.
What we think
While Ambassador is undeniably an iconic car and owning it might be a matter of pride and style statement more than a commuter, there are definitely better options. At the price range of 4.3 lakhs to approximately 6 lakhs, one could easily go for a far more luxurious vehicle such as a compact Sedan or a compact Crossover. But what Ambassador has, none of the others are even close to have, legacy. One does not talk about Mini Cooper and complain about its knee room in rear row, because the car just is not meant to be an everyday vehicle. Ambassador is in all rights a treasure of Indian roads and purchasing it should be seen in that way considering the price. Who knows when the company decides to reboot and rise above like a phoenix surprising one and all.