Unlike what many think, the Tata Sumo isn’t named after a Japanese Sumo wrestler. It is said that it derives its name from the initial two letters of Mr Sumant Moolgaokar’s first and last name. For those unaware, the gentleman is said to be the architect of TELCO or Tata Motors as it’s now known.
Explains why the Sumo has no resemblance to the appearance of a Japanese wrestler. In fact, it’s squared-off presence is just the opposite and projects an image that’s tough, rugged and rock-like. No wonder it’s still the weapon of choice among cab operators in the hilly regions of India. Now discontinued, the internet might tell you that there’s a 2020 Tata Sumo on the cards which could be introduced soon. But that’s not the case. Coming back to the point, here’s a video which will tell you why the Sumo with its uncomplicated mechanicals, leaf springs and power going only to the rear wheels, is still a revered vehicle:
Still not convinced? Here’s another one:
The reason why it’s such a hit among fleet operators in these regions is that the Sumo employs old school mechanicals to get the job done. As a result, repairs are easy on the pocket and things can be fixed with simple tools at a road-side mechanic or by the driver himself. These vehicles ply as taxis in the Himalayan regions of India, often filled to the brim with passengers and a tonne of luggage on the roof.
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Since landslides and poor weather is a common occurrence in these parts of the country, the journeys these vehicles complete is through routes where there’s often no tarmac or level ground, at all! Over time, these cab drivers develop some unbelievable skills and how they manage to pull these heavily-loaded vehicles out of tricky situations will make even a good driver scratch his head in disbelief. The load inside, the vehicle’s rock-like build and momentum do help, but it does take a braveheart to get to the other side successfully.
The Tata Sumo was also sold with a 4×4 drivetrain, but those were reserved for the armed forces, the fleet sector and export markets. Built on body-on-frame architecture, the Sumo’s rear axle was strengthened for off-road use. The front suspension system comprised of a double swinging trapezium and torsion bar, while a Salisbury-type beam rear axles with parabolic leaf springs and antiroll bar has been adopted at the rear. Throughout its life, the Sumo and its successive iterations were powered by many engines, where it started off with the Peugeot XD88 and a turbocharged version thereafter. Its final version, the Sumo Grande was powered by a modern, 2.2-litre DICOR engine.