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Old 6th January 2012, 14:46   #121
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Default Re: Stop at nothing. Not even gears. The 1st A-Star AT ownership on Team-BHP

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Originally Posted by pjbiju View Post
I have been waiting for a diesel hatchback with AT option. Looks like I will not see such a car any time soon. After reading through this whole thread (again) I am tempted to buy this car for our city travels. Though my wife is now quite comfortable in taking the Swift anywhere in the city, an AT would be that much more convenient. Is it time to swap the Swift for an A-Star AT?

Thanks SB for sharing your experiences here.
I too was hoping for some AT launches in the small car segment in Auto-expo. But none. I wanted a car for my wife and i was thinking of A-start Auto box.
But, since the expo was coming up, i thought of waiting to see if there would be any diesel Nano expected launch or any AT launches in small car like Alto/Nano, but hmmm none.
So, in all probability, i am going to book a A-start auto box.
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Old 25th January 2012, 14:08   #122
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Default An airport drop, almost missing the flight due to political meeting etc

A late update, but better late than never.

SIL was leaving to AU on 28-Dec-2011 after her vacation and me/wifey/kids had come to the in-laws place at Kollam to see her off at TVM airport. When fetching her from the airport a month ago, inlaws had gone in the A-Star, but then, they used the front passenger seat for luggage - they were only 4 adults of which 3 sat in the rear. The story was different now, since now we were 5 adults and 2kids, and so there was no way we could spare the front seat for luggage. We had my Dad's Swift, but everyone wanted to go in the A-Star, if that was possible. She had a big soft-luggage for check-in weighing around 22kgs - which when put in the boot as seen in snap below, there was practically no space left. In hindsight, I should have stacked it vertically, which would have provided some space for the cabin baggage.
Stop at nothing. Not even gears. The 1st A-Star AT ownership on Team-BHP-dsc03485.jpg

The cabin baggage was put on top of this bag, which meant I had very less visibility through the rear windshield - made maximum use of the wing mirrors. The other check-in item was a carton (2feet by 1feet by 4iinches). This was put between the backrests of the front seats - possible only because the car is AT and so once slotted into D, the gear-lever stays mostly in that position. For a 10:40PM flight, targetting an 8PM check-in, we left from Kollam at 5PM, which IMO is an over-cautious estimation for a 75km run on a 2-lane median-less road (no, I refuse to call that pathetic road an NH). But the way things turned out, it took us 4 hours to reach the airport.

Infact, we did not even think she will catch her flight. Around 6:30PM we are at Attingal and maybe just 30mins or so from destination, which is where the trouble starts. Cops have blocked the NH47 and ask us to take a right, drive for few kms and then rejoin the NH. Reason : CPI's state convention. Irritated we are, but since it seems like just a detour of few kms, we take the right, cursing the crappy guys who inconvenience the public. We have not even driven a km when we find ourselves at the end of a loooooong traffic jam of all vehicles diverted off the NH. And it is at a standstill. Time is running out fast and after cooling our heels at the same place for close to an hour, I can sense that she will miss the flight if I wait for divine intervention.

This is where the small car advantage stood out and I was glad I did not bring the Swift. I drove the A-Star on the left-most side of the road (untarred) dodging telephone poles, their stay-wires etc and after some 20mins managed to get to the head of the jam, where the road is clear, but is the typical country road - just about wide for 2 vehicles and no lighting. Raced through the road as best as the car could manage - the A-Star in all of its previous 7K kms would not have been driven like this. Finally when we reach the NH again, we think our troubles are over, only to be dejected to see heavy traffic at Kazhakoottam.

It is 8:30PM or so now and we have given up hope to catch the flight. I decide to give it a last try and race through the traffic, occasionally driving on the lane for oncoming traffic, whenever possible. FIL sitting in the front seat wants me to drive slow, MIL in the rear wants me to keep this pace. I am oblivious to both and just concentrating on the driving. Finally reach the tollroad where things are better. There is an i10 ambling along on the middle lane and I overtake him, among many others including some Q-series Audi etc.

I see a car in a hurry behind me and assuming he has an emergency, I give way, only to know that it was a mistake. It was the i10 guy from before, who for some reason I could not fathom did not like that I overtook him and wants to side-swipe me - he comes sideways to hit our car. At another time, I would have been game, but this was not the occasion, so I gun the car, get ahead of him and never gave him way to overtake after that - he tried a lot to get in front again, without success. So much for the A-Star being underpowered.

We reach the airport at 9:15PM, having taken more than 4 hours to cover 75kms of NH. The place is empty - because many have missed their flights and could not make it. There were the usual Gulf-returnees who reached after their flight took off and were literally crying. Anyway, SIL checks-in and boards the flight which takes off at scheduled time.

I don't remember the last time I drove under such stress. The puny AT got us (5 adults, a 4-yr kid, and infant & 27kgs of baggage) through , but if it were the MT version, would have been quicker IMO. Only regret was that I had chosen to stick the "I drive safe" sticker on this car, since wifey/FIL/SIL drive it and they are safe drivers. But given how I drove that day, the irony would not have been lost on those who could see that sticker and saw me drive. Anyway, my respect for the car imcreased manyfold after this incident.

BTW, the return trip home from airport was done in 75mins - ie. average speed of 60kmph - but this was at midnight hence empty roads.

Query :
As mentioned earlier, there was a carton placed between the backrests of the front seats. While I was racing against time to reach the airport, the drive consisted of bursts of quick acceleration, sudden & heavy braking etc. At one point I braked and then when I pressed A-pedal, the engine raced but car did not move forward. Surprised, I look at the gear-lever and see it was slotted in reverse - what happened was that when I braked, the carton moved forward and pushed the gear-lever from D to R. While moving from D to R or vice-versa when car is in motion is bad for the transmission, in this case, I guess the shift happened at braking, when the car was at very low speed or stationary. Not sure what the effect is due to this unintentional gear change ??? Though I did not feel anything wrong in the drive after that or on our return and since then.

Last edited by supremeBaleno : 25th January 2012 at 14:16.
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Old 25th January 2012, 15:24   #123
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Default Re: Stop at nothing. Not even gears. The 1st A-Star AT ownership on Team-BHP

supremebaleno- while I can identify with your state of mind on that day and sympathise with the situation you were in, there is absolutely no justification for the bad driving you indulged in that day. The car was clearly overloaded, you used the left shoulder to get ahead in a jam, you used the oncoming lanes by your own admission, you "raced" with an i10 when you should have just let it pass and you placed luggage in a way that hampered your visibility and interfered with your driving and was potentially dangerous to your passengers (imagine a D->R shift at high speed). All this when you had the option of taking a larger vehicle or even 2 vehicles. Not cool!
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Old 25th January 2012, 15:48   #124
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Default Re: Stop at nothing. Not even gears. The 1st A-Star AT ownership on Team-BHP

noopster- You are right about the visibility being hampered due to luggage - was planning to get a roof-rack fitted, but did not work out. But not about "racing" with the i10. When I overtook him, he was on the middle lane of the 3-lane tollroad and I overtook him from the right on the fast lane, which is the way to do it. I am not sure why he took affront to this and tried to swipe me sideways. To avoid his mental act, I then had to get in front of him - there was nothing else I could do to avoid him hitting my car.

And I don't know what you mean by "left shoulder" - this road had no footpath - this was the untarred muddy space of some 5-6 feet between where the road ends till the houses on the road. I don't think it is wrong to drive on this, dont we get off the shoulder of the road ?

And regarding oncoming lanes, if you have been to Kerala, the NH47 is a 2-lane road without a median. If you have to overtake someone, you have to get on to the oncoming lane - I doubt anyone can avoid doing this (except at curves/bridges where the lines are marked yellow-thick or white-thick continous) and just follow the vehicle in front.

But overall yeah, it was not an experience to relish - too much mental strain for me and the car. Something I would not have done, if not for the flight - SIL had landed a job after 2years of effort and was set to join on reaching AU. Not getting there as planned could have put a spoke in this.
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Old 30th January 2012, 13:52   #125
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Default Re: An airport drop, almost missing the flight due to political meeting etc

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Originally Posted by supremeBaleno View Post
(no, I refuse to call that pathetic road an NH).
True! How much time and money we waste because of this so-called NH! Not to mention the risks involved.

@noopster: I am not justifying anything, but kollam to Trivandrum is usually a 2 hour drive (Even STC buses make it within this time). But some days, things go wrong. Everything from party meeting/ religious festivals/ protests brings down this national highway to a standstill.
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Old 8th May 2013, 09:58   #126
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Default Re: Stop at nothing. Not even gears. The 1st A-Star AT ownership on Team-BHP

The A-Star_AT completed 2 years in Dec2012. Usage has been minimal with the car not even doing 10K kms in 2 years. It was only in March2013 or so that the odometer crossed over into 5 digits - currently at 10400kms or so.

I have now got used to shifting between AT & MT cars effortlessly, since I do it on a weekly basis - Mon-Fri it is the Baleno and weekends it is the A-Star or sometimes our Swift. The golden rule is to keep the left-foot pressed into the footwell when driving AT.

After 2 years, the car is out of warranty, which means, it will most probably not see the interiors of a MASS again - will be serviced exclusively at Gulf Automobiles, Mavelikara (KL) owned by a friend of mine who has 20+ years of experience as a automobile-mechanic in India and the Middle East.

A recent snap of the car parked in the Swift's garage at our home in Kerala. The garage is around 28 years old and was designed by my Dad. It is held together by nuts/bolts and thus can be dismantled / transported.
Stop at nothing. Not even gears. The 1st A-Star AT ownership on Team-BHP-20130413-11.47.00.jpg

It was first used to shelter our 1985 M800 in Assam, then shipped to Kerala where it was used for the 1999 M800 and now the Swift. A design change was done for Kerala - the slope/gradient of the roof was increased to take into account the higher rainfall in Kerala.
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Old 26th April 2014, 16:43   #127
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Default 15000kms done. Took 3+ years for this though :)

Finally the odometer rolled over to 15000kms in end-March 2014. It took 3years, 3 months to get here, signifying an average annual running of ~5000kms.
Stop at nothing. Not even gears. The 1st A-Star AT ownership on Team-BHP-20140329_132314.jpg

In between, we did a long trip from Kollam to Wayanad and back, totalling close to 1000kms. Have the travel-log and snaps ready - need to put it down here soon.
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