I had seen the Isuzu Bus during the Bus Expo in Bangalore during 2009. At the first look, it was looking unique a bit different than the normal luxury buses. The golden colour bus caught my attention soon. There were another 2 siblings of Isuzu also in the expo. Though the bus was impressive I was not sure how it would perform in Indian roads.
After a few months I saw the bus on trail basis with KSRTC doing the Bangalore - Chennai route. Also saw some pics of this bus doing the Bangalore - Mysore route. Later on the buses vanished after the trail period.
In March 2010 I got an opportunity to travel in the Isuzu bus. Sea Bird Tourist had launched this bus few days back between Bangalore and Manipal. All excited knowing this I immediately booked my next travel to my home town in Mangalore by this bus.
Here is the first hand experience of the bus:
As said earlier the bus looks a bit unique than the regaular luxury buses. The front and rear design are too good, its not a boxy square design but a cute curve design. The front and the rear looks really impressive. The head lights are bulged out and looks unique. Isuzu is from Japan and its looks also resembles just like any other Japanese car models. The head of the bus is large but the body looks too small. Looking at the rear you can notice the ABS symbol. The Logo of Isuzu stands out both in the front and the rear. Currently Swaraz Mazda is marketing these buses in India.
Isuzu is a premium offering just like Volvo's and comes with a fully built in coach. Like the top end luxury buses its fully airconditioned and has a rear engine. The Rear engine looks small unlike many of the large regular rear engines. There is also sufficient space for luggage in the bottom of the bus. The exterior quality seems to be well built and the painting also gives a premium image. Also you notice the ground clearence of the bus, I think it has one of the best ground clearences compared to any of the premium luxury buses.
From the inside the bus looks small, it doesnt give the impression of a large luxury bus. The seats look decent but leg space is limited. The inside luggage compartment just looks like the one which you have in flights, and it impresses with the lights placed below the luggage compartment. Isuzu buses have Video coach wth a large LCD screen in front.
Here's the positive side of the travel experience:
The first impression of the bus was good. Its Interior was excellent and it had 2 LCD TV's. Seats are comfortable like any other luxury bus.
The bus was clean, drivers were looking decent. Isuzu has a rear engine and the ground clearance is pretty good.
I had low expectations for the Isuzu bus since it was Swaraj Mazda tie up, but the bus exceeded my expectations. Based on my earlier travel experience in most of the Luxury coaches like Mercedes, Volvo , Kinglong, Volvo multi axel and Luxury Tata and AL buses. Isuzu was on par with Volvo & Mercedes on many aspects.
I was surprised to see the speed it was doing. The bus was easily going more than 100 KMS. It has a amazing suspension which came as a surprise. Even Volvo doesn’t have such good suspension. The bus proved itself in the horrible Shiradi ghat road. The bus looks strong and the noise level and vibration level inside the bus is much lower. The bus was so comfortable that many people inside the bus were snoring. Pickup is a bit lower compared to Volvo and Merc. But Braking and power steering were also excellent. Don’t know how much it is priced but a real worth buy for bus owners. The bus left at 11.15PM and reached Mangalore at 7.15 AM with more than 1 hour break. Almost a 7 Hours drive.
Now comes the Negative side of the travel experience:
The bus was supposed to start from Ghandinagar at 10.45 PM but it started only at 11.15 PM. Reason the bus came late from Chennai and the same bus was routed to Mangalore. Though all passengers were there the bus started late since the driver didn’t had a place to sleep and was arguing with the office staff for allotting his seat to passengers. There were double drivers and the last row was allotted to driver to sleep at last. After that the agent shifted the last row passenger to other seats. It reached Rajainagar at 11.30 and again the other agent had allotted the last row seats to passengers. The driver got fed up and refused to travel, he said he can’t risk passengers life and had a heated argument with the agent. And guess what drivers didn’t even had dinner!!! and now he didn’t had a place to sleep.
The driver took his bag and got off the bus. Later however after the owner spoke to the driver, and he agreed to come inside the bus. The other driver was a old man in his 50's and he also told the agent that he can’t drive all alone till Manipal. And even more worse the same bus had to leave Manipal again at 10.00AM on its journey back. It’s really sad to see how the management was exploiting the poor drivers. After all they are also humans and need good rest and proper food. They are risking the life of passengers and drivers by making them work like this. So the bus left Bangalore at 11.45 PM once the other driver came back.
The bus took the Magadi road to reach Kunigal. On the way they were bringing down a tree for road widening in Magadi road again some 15 mins lost. After some time the old driver was waking up the cleaner, but instead we all woke up. The driver said he was feeling sleepy and he told the cleaner to wake up the other driver. But the other driver refused since he didn’t even had dinner and it was 2.00AM.
Hearing this my heart beat doubled. Since the driver told Kamath hotel was another 80Kms away. Last week one of my relative met with a accident while he was travelling in Manjunath Roadlines where the driver felt sleepy and it went off road. I didn’t get sleep till it reached Kamath hotel at 3.00AM. All the Mangalore buses had gone and ours was the last bus to leave at 3.30AM.
After that the other driver took over the bus. He over took 2 Volvo’s and he was zooming like a airplane and it reached Siradi ghat at 4.30AM and by 5.30AM the bus had covered the horrible ghat. The driver took all the frustration on the bus I feel. The suspension was good so the bus came easily down on the horrible road. By 7.15AM it reached Mangalore