In the monsoon of 2012, we took a beautiful, red Audi TT along with its then newly acquired Italian cousin, the Ducati Monster 795, for a 500 kms spin around the heavenly lush green western ghats. This was for our Driver Vs Rider series that was published in the second-anniversary issue of the xBhp magazine.
Here’s a recap of that ride.
The Volkswagen group has many top marquees in its kitty, one of them being Ducati itself, being acquired by its sub-brand – Audi. As motorcyclists, we were worried as were thousands of other Ducati fans around the world about the aftermath of this transition. But many years have passed by and this partnership has stood the test of time.
Seen here is the Audi TT with a Ducati Monster 795. They seem in perfect harmony with each other. This roadtrip started from the chaos of Mumbai and into the heavy rainfall hill region of Mahabaleshwar, 250 odd kays away. This was the off season for strawberries here, but the red that we had with us would more than make up for it.
The Audi TT surprised us with its versatility, we could take it to lots of places, thanks to its permanent all-wheel drive and ample ground clearance. Switch off the traction control for a mudslinging wheel-spin fest or keep it on, like we did for easy takeoff, even from a lakeshore…
It was never a problem for the Monster 795 to go into these kinds of places, but the Rider did have to make peace with soiled shoes and trousers though, unlike the Driver who let the car do the Rider’s work for him!
The Sports Mode really changes the power, delivery, and handling characteristics of the car. The Driver remains comfortably ensconced in the plush interiors of the Audi TT, shielded from the elements, while the Rider braves the monsoon winds and rain along with making peace with a road that’s as slippery as it gets. The Monster 795 doesn’t have traction control or ABS (this model), which made me realize how effective they are on the MultiStrada.
One surprising omission from the Audi TT was the Bluetooth and an Aux-In Port. We simply couldn’t find it and the music on my iPhone was rendered pretty useless! Another feature that we would have loved was a sunroof, or at least a photochromic one ala Mercedes SLK 350, but then this Audi TT was a whole lot less costly than that one!
The Audi TT is a 2-door sports car produced by Audi since 1998. Since then, the car has seen 3 generations christened as Mk1, Mk2, and Mk3. All three generations of the car have had 2+2 and 2-seater roadster (open-top) configurations as well. While some people refer to the name TT as short for Technology and Tradition, the name actually comes from somewhere else. It gets its name from Tourist Trophy as in Isle of Man TT. NSU and DKW were the two companies that merged to form Audi as we know it today and both of them had a good run at the British Isle of Man TT and hence, the name TT.
This was en route to a place called Kaas from Mahabaleshwar. It is one of the most beautiful roads we have travelled on. The red pair contrasted wonderfully with the blue monsoon sky and the unbelievable greenery below. The Kaas valley is known for its blooming flora post monsoon. However, if you wish to see it in all its glory, then timing is critical. Vehicles, not even motorcycles, were allowed inside on the paths in the flower fields but the place was teeming with tourists. Nevertheless, the amazing ride and those roads made up for it!
The Audi TT was a nimble yet stable companion throughout the drive and it even had the looks to match the style statement that its companion, the Ducati is…
Red Riding Monster. The Rider soaks in the forest while it rains around him. The bike and the car come across as two lovers in monsoon.
The Ducati Monster is a naked or a streetfighter motorcycle being produced by Ducati since 1993. The original design was the work of Miguel Angel Galluzzi and it has seen many variations since its birth. The first generation saw M600, M750, and M900 with an entry-level M400 added to the lineup in 1994.
In 2001, the S4 arrived with a 4-valve, liquid-cooled superbike engine and was followed by the S4R, a 113 bhp monster (literally) with the engine from the Ducati 916. The predecessor of the one we rode, the Monster 795, was the Monster 796 that was introduced in 2010. The 795 came out in 2011 and it was aimed specifically for the Asian Market. It was assembled in Thailand.
The Monster 795 was built on the frame of the Monster 696 and had the engine that powered the 796 which meant 803cc of displacement, 87 bhp of power and 78.5 Nm of torque. While the numbers may not seem earth-shattering on paper, when one considers the weight, 167 kg (kerb), they realize that the Monster 795 could be more than a handful. We found that out firsthand when it, for the first time, made us miss Traction Control on a motorcycle… especially when taken off the tarmac.
The Rider. Noor Patni from Mumbai not only looked good on the Monster 795, but according to him, it was a very stable machine, even in the very wet Western Ghats. As I mentioned earlier, he did miss traction control and ABS which would have probably allowed him more safety (but less fun!). The Monster 795 was the first Ducati, which was built outside of Bologna, in Thailand. This bike was specifically made for the Asian market. The relatively ‘local’ manufacturing also means that it is less costly than its ‘Born in Italy’ counterpart!
The Driver. Puneet Mehta from New Delhi has been driving for more than a decade now, but this was his first sports car, and he was impressed. The best thing about the TT was the styling and its stability around corners. Though, like me, he sorely missed a Bluetooth connection. I also felt that there should have been a tad more punch in the car, than 211 HP is carried. However, it is a great car, albeit with a little stiff suspension that let us know all the while that we were driving in Mumbai. It is also practical as a daily car with the ground clearance it sports, not even once did its belly scrape the tarmac below.