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Old 9th February 2016, 17:58   #1
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Default A Highway "trial-ogue" of the K10's AMT on the BMR Circuit

It's 6:30PM on a Saturday evening and I am at the wheel of my new(ish) Alto K10 AMT, stuck in Bangalore's Weekend traffic cruising along at a stunning 10km/h. My mind is somewhere else; subconsciously wondering how awesome it would be to go out on the highways, wind in the hair, eating at unknown joints, lapping up mile after mile in the sheer generosity of nature and the openness of this vast land which has so many stunning shades of culture, history and natural beauty on offer to those who dare to see it all ... aaaaand BRAKE when the signal turned red in front of me.

The next sixty odd seconds at that signal created this juxtaposition of the wandering mind v/s the reality of things. It gave me an idea - an opportunity I had been longing for, to test the highway behaviour of the car I am driving. It was a pity that the car had only been familiar to congested streets, slow city speeds, narrow roads and dense traffic. It had been brought up in a very urban lifestyle, sipping on Shell Petrol, sniffing a heavy and dusty air which had a lingering smell of half burnt fuel, and running into and over craters, that we call roads in Bangalore.

Now, coming to the trip in mind, the car had done about 2500 clicks on the ODO since I bought it in October last year, and not one of them was on a highway. Taking the car along with the family and a 1yo baby on a long highway trip is challenging enough; but doing so without knowing how the vehicle handles is something I was not confident about. Plus, I needed to understand the highway behaviour of the AMT unit and had no idea on how it handled overtake maneuvers and bends or corners at speed. Moreover, the AMT unit was misbehaving (Alto K10 AMT problem: Gearbox moving to 'N' unexpectedly) and I had given the car to the service center to fix the issue. I really needed a long trip to ensure the AMT issue was fixed and didn't come up again. Precisely why I did not want to do the trip with my family and kiddo in the first place!

After about 60s, the signal turned green and so did my mind! I could do a simple "trial" run of the AMT unit and understand the car's behaviour in a few hours' drive early next morning! I could be back in time for breakfast - I thought - and this would definitely not need any so called approvals from the home minister.

A few minutes later and a couple of WhatsApp messages exchanged with fellow BHPian girimajiananth, we decided to meet up at 6am to start the so called "trial-ogue" on the B-M-R Circuit. Umm, no - this aint no "Bangalore Moto-Riders" club or anything fancy like that. Lets just keep it simple with the "B" standing for Bangalore (or BengaLuru) for now.

Fast forward to the next morning and we meet up as planned and drive out to NICE road which, in my opinion, is NOT SO NICE anymore. There are massive undulations on the road (from Kanakpura Road Exit towards Magadi Road) and they are not very pleasant, specially when road signs approve of speeds of 120kmph! Only a moron would drive at 120kmph over those undulations!

After a brief run on the NOT-SO-NICE, we took the exit towards the town of Magadi (pronounced maa-ga-dee) which comes to the "M" in the BMR name. After the exit, the roads that lead into Magadi are pretty smooth except for a couple of odd broken patches. Believe me, this is no ordinary road - it has straights, bends, chicanes, uphill turns, blind corners and some more - and is pure fun to drive on. Sprinkle a dose of early morning sunrise to the tarmac and the experience becomes all the more interesting.

A Highway "trial-ogue" of the K10's AMT on the BMR Circuit-dsc_9449.jpg
Lovely morning sun on a lazy Sunday

So, moving on, we cross the Thippagondanahalli Reservoir where the roads are absolutely stunning with one curve, followed by a another tight chicane and so on. Unfortunately, the gates to this place were closed and we could not stop here for a quick photo session.

As far as the driving behaviour of the K10 AMT goes, here were my initial observations. Note that I will be comparing the ride quality directly to my old Alto K10 (2010 edition) in this thread. The new K10 has a very bouncy ride, even when comparing to the old K10. There is significant (read massive) body roll and the smallest of undulations on the road are transferred to the passengers in the cabin. Road noise and NVH are improved at city speeds but they are more or less the same at highway speeds. I felt that the stock tires were lousy and didn't offer sufficient grip, nor a confidence inspiring drive. Coming to the engine, I felt that it was straining a bit even when I was in 5th gear and was cruising at 80-90kmph. This behaviour felt a little odd - it was like something is holding it back. May be it was because the car was going at these speeds and at these RPMs in these gears for the first time and it was the engine breaking in that gave this lethargic response.

On the other hand, the AMT unit delivered a very pleasant surprise. It was in the right gear almost all the time and I rarely had to downshift to get more power. At one point near the reservoir, the road takes a steep incline up and at this point, the AMT unit held the gear at 3 while I was doing 70-75kmph. This was a very satisfying observation. It almost has this uncanny knack of reading the drivers mind on what gear the car should be in. It automatically downshifted to 3 or 4 based on the current speed and A pedal input and also upshifted to 5 as soon as the conditions were right. Sometimes, it even went to the 2 gear when I pressed the A pedal hard and wanted to get that extra grunt. Being what it is best at, the engine revved freely and almost touched 5K RPM when this happened. Obviously, being ardent petrol heads, girimajiananth and I - both had this big grin on our faces when this happened.

Moving on, we soon touched Magadi and then took the detour to Ramanagara, which is the "R" and the last part of our BMR circuit. The roads from Magadi to Ramanagara look like they have been created for gearheads like us. Fast straights, sweeping curves, tight chicanes, etc. make for a wonderful driving experience. To this, add the morning fog on a lazy Sunday morning and you got yourself a little treat!

A Highway "trial-ogue" of the K10's AMT on the BMR Circuit-dsc_9451.jpg
Morning fog adds drama to the entire scenery!

Important - I am in no way promoting rash driving - Note that there are villages dotting this road throughout and you must be very careful driving on this road. There are lots of unmarked speed bumps and watch out for these when you travel. Also, local regional transport buses from KSRTC ply on these roads and are driven rashly (and sometimes in the oncoming lane) - so please be careful in these areas. Not to add the occasional BHPian straying on to the roads in order to click some pictures for a travelogue like this

A Highway "trial-ogue" of the K10's AMT on the BMR Circuit-dsc_9459.jpg
From another angle - somewhere near Manchanabele Dam

Passing by the Manchanabele dam (which is now out of bounds for the local man, thanks to careless visitors and unfortunate water-accidents), we head deeper into the rocky terrain that surrounds Ramanagara. Thankfully, road conditions are simply stunning and we can keep a steady speed of 50-60kmph making those tight curves even more fun. We halt at a clearing to admire the golden morning sun and to have a couple of morning stretches!

A Highway "trial-ogue" of the K10's AMT on the BMR Circuit-dsc_9466.jpg
Morning Glory!

A Highway "trial-ogue" of the K10's AMT on the BMR Circuit-dsc_9468.jpg
From another angle

A Highway "trial-ogue" of the K10's AMT on the BMR Circuit-dsc_9469.jpg
And miles to go ... before we stop for breakfast!

A Highway "trial-ogue" of the K10's AMT on the BMR Circuit-dsc_9473.jpg
Looking back ...

Driving on, we approach Ramanagara town after which we join the boring BLR-MYS highway. A quick pitstop at the newly opened A2B after Bidadi fills us up with fresh idlis and piping hot filter coffee. Refreshed, we quickly head back into Bangalore and are home by 10am.

Overall, the quickie with my K10 AMT was indeed fun and we enjoyed every bit of the drive. Some facts of the drive:
  • Total Distance covered: A little over 120km (home to home)
  • Total Time for the drive: Just under 3 hours (4 hours if you consider the frequent photo breaks, as well as the breakfast stopver)

So, coming to the "trial", I did not see any issues with the AMT unit. It behaved well and the last part of the drive from Ramanagara to Bangalore was more of a "OK if I do XYZ, the car will respond like ABC" sort of a run and it did behave as I expected it to. I drove almost all the distance in the D mode and rarely used the M mode. It was a very relaxing and fun drive where I understood that the car feels best when driven in D, at a constant 70-80kmph. Go over 90 and the confidence level goes down and with stock tyres, don't venture beyond 100 or 110kmph. Its really not worth it - the engine strains, the mileage drops, you feel the driving strain and the need to constantly re-adjust and its not really worth the driving tension. Just slot the car into D and it can be driven all day at 80kmph without flinching even once.

Compared to my old K10, I still feel the old K10 had a more zippy feel to it and felt like a pocket rocket. I don't know if the AMT makes me feel this way, but the new K10 AMT is not as fun to drive as the old K10 - I guess its just the Manual v/s AMT that makes the experience more fun in the old manual version. Don't get me wrong - the new K10 is a nice car to drive, I guess the automatic gear changes make the drive a little less fun; maybe I need to try the M mode next time! I have no idea on how the manual version of the new K10 is, so can't comment on that.

An important thing to note here - on getting back into the K10 after our break at A2B, I felt a difference in how the engine felt - it ran more freely and had lost that lethargic strained tone and was driving more smoothly and pulled well. I don't know the reason for this but it did feel good. May be the engine was being run-in when I took it out in the morning and then was running-itself-in during the later part of the drive. All said and done, a great little experience in the little K10 AMT!

Finally, a big thanks to girimajiananth for joining me on the drive and making it all the more fun!

Last edited by vsathyap : 10th February 2016 at 12:56.
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Old 10th February 2016, 16:45   #2
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Default re: A Highway "trial-ogue" of the K10's AMT on the BMR Circuit

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section). Thanks for sharing!

Thats a nice short sweet morning drive. The golden hours of morning are always the best. A flask of hot water, tea bags and biscuits can make that golden hour even a better memory!
We did the exact circuit in the opposite. Instead of going to Ramangar, we descended down and crossed Arkavathy at Manchabele, trekked up to Savandurga and then returned back via Magadi.

Last edited by ampere : 10th February 2016 at 16:48.
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Old 10th February 2016, 17:34   #3
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Default re: A Highway "trial-ogue" of the K10's AMT on the BMR Circuit

This was truly an eventful drive, a welcome change on a weekend . Once, I drove from Ramnagar-->magadi-->Nice road at around 8pm. It was pitch dark,not a single soul around and my car's headlights were the only source of lights.It felt like Tokyo drift :-) (I was driving safely of course)
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Old 12th February 2016, 17:01   #4
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Default Re: A Highway "trial-ogue" of the K10's AMT on the BMR Circuit

I am a sucker for manual transmission and just love to handle gears as per the condition. I can vouch for you that alto K10 was a peppy car and just loved the way to zoomed ahead. ATs are a something that I don't personally like due to the fact that they sometime don't put you in the correct gear as you might want. May be I have not driven an AT which comes in a bracket on 15+ lakhs and has a similar experience as the MTs. But till the time I drive that dream AT, I would love the MT anytime over the automatics - personal opinion!
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