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Old 23rd May 2015, 14:33   #1
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Default Best car for the hills?

I live in Chandigarh and I love driving to the hills. I drive to the hills near Chandigarh nearly thrice a month. I have driven many cars that my family has owned, but to the hills I have extensively driven the Maruti 800, the Swift VDI and the Mahindra Thar DI 2WD.
The Swift I have found to be pathetic in kuccha roads uphill. The Maruti has always been good (even on LPG). The Jeep I have always loved.

Yesterday while driving on small kuccha roads on the Thar DI, a friend remarked that a small car would be 30% quicker. I gave his statement a thought and I think he is correct. Also no wonder most cab drivers in the hills use Altos. The hill cows are smaller, men are shorter, buses smaller. Can we say the Alto/Maruti 800 is the best car for remote Himachal? Regarding CRDI vs old time diesels I feel that old diesels have much much much better low end torque and are far superior for the hills.

So, the question is, that 'what kind' of car is best suited to the hills, especially kuccha road settings? My mind says a car which is light, small, manual transmission, has a short wheel base. Am I correct?
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Old 23rd May 2015, 15:13   #2
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Default re: Best car for the hills?

I remember reading a travelogue where the lighter car (Maruti 800 I suppose) tackled slushy terrain of snow and mud with surprising ease as compared to other heavier vehicles.

A car with a lighter footprint wouldn't sink much into the slush/mud unlike heavier vehicles, isn't it?

In my several trips to the Himalayas even I've seen many Altos/800's taking on the terrain easily.

I guess, an Alto would be a good choice. It is a proven workhorse in the hills. However, all said, nothing can beat a 4WD in such terrains.

-Bhargav
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Old 23rd May 2015, 15:18   #3
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Default re: Best car for the hills?

I have found small SUV's to be the best. I have driven the Yeti 4X4 extensively. Duster AWD should be good as well as well as Scorpio 4WD.

Here in Sikkim, either its petrol hatches or EcoSport/Duster or Scorpio/Fortuner.

4WD because at places, in hills you will require if you go a bit off the beaten track.
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Old 23rd May 2015, 15:49   #4
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Default re: Best car for the hills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jassi_jeeper View Post
So, the question is, that 'what kind' of car is best suited to the hills, especially kuccha road settings? My mind says a car which is light, small, manual transmission, has a short wheel base. Am I correct?
In my recent trip (Hyderabad - Delhi - Chandigarh - Shimla - Delhi - Hyderabad), was surprised to the number of Alto 800's, Alto K10's, Elite i20's, Swift Dzire's zooming past without a sweat in the hills. They were pretty comfortable without the 'strained' feel.

Smaller wheelbase (Overall smaller footprint), decent power output, nimble handling should make things good for the hills.
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Old 23rd May 2015, 16:08   #5
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Default re: Best car for the hills?

The best vehicle would be the Duster AWD.

1. Tackling broken roads is one thing, keeping you comfortable over them is entirely another. As an example, my SWB Jeep can handle any kind of surface, but it's not for those with a weak set of bones. The Duster has mind-blowing ride quality on bad roads.

2. It has the bells & whistles that you expect of a modern car. Safety kit too, including ESP.

3. AWD to get you out of tricky situations.

4. Ample ground clearance of 210 mm.

5. 109 BHP and the AWD's controlled turbo-lag mean sufficient grunt for climbs.

6. Smaller size means it's a lot more agile than the Scorpio / Safari.


Last edited by GTO : 23rd May 2015 at 17:07.
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Old 23rd May 2015, 17:40   #6
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Default re: Best car for the hills?

As stated by other bhpians above I would also say that small hatchbacks and softroaders are ideal for hilly terrain in and around Himachal. I have lived in Shimla for 20 years and a short wheelbase hatchback is wonderful to have as it is easy to park around and the short turning radius can be especially useful(we have some very narrow roads in HP). But kuccha roads are best negotiated in softroaders or MUV's/SUV's with ample ground clearance.You can drive much faster on unpaved roads in say a duster than a small hatch. I believe on unpaved roads ground clearance and ride quality become very important factors that determine how fast you can actually go. I would say that the alto/800 can tackle most roads in the hills but there are still some places where high ground clearance vehicles are desirable

Last edited by bullrun87 : 23rd May 2015 at 17:49.
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Old 24th May 2015, 10:05   #7
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Default re: Best car for the hills?

I would agree with GTO here. Small cars will be easy on the hills but it becomes tricky when the road is bad. Another aspect is turbo lag. I used to drive a Swift D and it's a pain to drive in the hills. I would prefer crossovers/small SUVs with minumum turbolag. Duster 110 would not be ideal but 85 or AWD would be perfect.
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Old 24th May 2015, 10:48   #8
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Default re: Best car for the hills?

Do NA petrols do better then diesel cars at higher altitudes?
My friend took his Mobilio diesel to Doddapetta peak and the car died in-between. He could drive down once the engine cooled down.
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Old 24th May 2015, 11:03   #9
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Immediately after buying Duster I did drive to Ooty. During climb towards Doddapetta peak even I got struck twice. Being a new vehicle it was only due to lack of practice caused this. Definitely the climb was easy in Duster in hills
GTO - would like to add Swift also to this list minus GC
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Old 24th May 2015, 11:46   #10
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Default re: Best car for the hills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guna View Post
Do NA petrols do better then diesel cars at higher altitudes?
.
My observation tells me that. Rather even diesels. TC vehicles do have a lag, however great the turbo may be and that will surely impact stop-n-go uphill.
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Old 24th May 2015, 12:50   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guna View Post
Do NA petrols do better then diesel cars at higher altitudes?
Will higher altitudes, oxygen levels deplete making the engine struggle for Oxygen for optimum combustion.

AFR (Air to fuel ratio), this is the ratio of air:fuel required for combustion. Higher the altitude lesser the air density leading to starvation in an NA petrol but in a diesel the Turbo should squeeze in more amount of air helping in combustion.

Hope I am correct here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jassi_jeeper View Post
My observation tells me that. Rather even diesels. TC vehicles do have a lag, however great the turbo may be and that will surely impact stop-n-go uphill.
Turbo chargers being driven by the exhaust gases, the amount of pressure required for the turbo to generate the boost delivering the required performance would need you to get the RPM 's on the higher side, diverting the performance.

B2B traffic will keep the turbo adjoining but not generate the boost for acceleration / performance that one demands.
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Old 24th May 2015, 14:20   #12
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Default re: Best car for the hills?

Quote:
Originally Posted by a4anurag View Post
Will higher altitudes, oxygen levels deplete making the engine struggle for Oxygen for optimum combustion.

AFR (Air to fuel ratio), this is the ratio of air:fuel required for combustion. Higher the altitude lesser the air density leading to starvation in an NA petrol but in a diesel the Turbo should squeeze in more amount of air helping in combustion.

Hope I am correct here.


But below the point at which the turbo kicks in (which may be the case on these roads) doesn't the problem compound because turbo engines are operating under lesser compression ratio?

Last edited by GTO : 25th May 2015 at 13:19. Reason: Typo
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Old 24th May 2015, 14:43   #13
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Having had my fair share of driving in the hills, I would say having a big car (anything bigger than a city/Verna types) is useless.

Small petrol hatchback are excellent on 'pukka' roads but on anything 'kucha' you do want a 4x4.

We have both an alto and a Pajero sport and 9 out of 10times, my dad will pick the alto.

But what would be excellent in my view is a small petrol with rear wheel drive.

Is it just me or has anyone else also been surprised by the number of omnis, nanos and Eco's found in the hills?
The rear wheel drive is critical since on an incline a small light car doesn't have enough weight on the front wheels and starts spinning its tires.
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Old 24th May 2015, 16:07   #14
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Default re: Best car for the hills?

I am a native of Manali and I am living in Himachal Pradesh right from my birth. Going by the present scenario, a hatchback is the best bet. The hatches these days are powerful and feature packed. They are easy to maneuver in tight and twisty roads. Moreover, these days hatches like Hyundai I 20 Active have ground clearance of almost 190 mm. The only drawback these hatches have is that once roads turn ugly they become tough to drive. And that is where the monocoque SUV come to picture.

P.S. The best hatch for the hills was the Maruti Suzuki Zen ( the sweet old jelly bean, not the Estillo). That little car had a marvelous engine and was a dream to drive. Unfortunately it is out of production now.
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Old 24th May 2015, 20:02   #15
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Post deleted by the Team-BHP Support : Please do NOT post messages that add little or no informational value to the thread. We need your co-operation to maintain the quality of this forum.

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Last edited by GTO : 25th May 2015 at 11:05.
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