Confused between XUV300 & Nexon as our old Maruti A-Star replacement

We are looking at the automatic transmission options but is it possible (or advisable) to drive an AMT car in manual mode in the long term?

BHPian Malyaj recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

It is time to buy a new car and as with most purchases, analysis-paralysis had kicked in. After a few months of research, I have zeroed down on 2 options, but before that, some background will help.


Our current garage consists of a 2013 WagonR and a pre-owned 2010 A-Star Automatic. For most of the ownership period, the WagonR has been my drive and A-Star my wife's. She cannot drive a manual. The vehicle to be replaced is the A-Star as it is quite old now, rattles on the horrible Bangalore roads, and we want to part with it while we can get some value.

Additional problems with the A-Star include:

  • A windshield which has developed wiper scratch marks which cause visibility problems at night on narrow 2-lane roads with the oncoming traffic lights.
  • Tiny ORVMs
  • Poor headlights. Couple of years back I got these replaced by more powerful ones, which went kaput. The mechanic said the wiring cannot support better headlamps and I have to live with it or keep changing them.

All the above put together make driving at night difficult and even dangerous. Bangalore roads are poorly lit and I don't want my wife driving such a vehicle any longer. Hence the decision to part with it rather than the Wagon R, which still has some years left in it.

Once replaced, the new AT car will become the primary vehicle. Our workplaces are now walking distance from each other's and therefore we commute together. We plan to use only one car 90% of the time, with the WagonR becoming a stand-by car if there are guests at home and more than 5 need to be carried.

A very important consideration is that the new vehicle has to last at least 10 years as we are not planning to purchase anything in between. We are also not people who like frequent visits to the workshops or expensive repair bills. Maruti has spoilt us in this department.

Lessons from past driving experiences

  • Before Covid, we used to do a fair amount of outstation trips, but as the vehicles have aged and safety consciousness has set in, this has reduced.
  • Both our vehicles are not great performers, and more than once on highways we have been in tricky situations while overtaking.
  • The A-Star has given us some nightmarish moments on steep hills. On one particular trip back from Goa to Bangalore, we took a less frequented route (Tirali Ghat, IIRC), which had very steep hairpin bends and the A-Star kept upshifting from 1st to 2nd gear, which made climbing next to impossible.
  • We have also suffered underbody hits, in the rain-battered roads of Western Ghats / Nilgiris which we visit fairly often.

This has made us conclude that our next vehicle must have:

  • Decent ground clearance
  • Enough power for safe overtaking
  • A gearbox that is competent on hills

A host of other decisions have gone into the shortlisting, but I won't go into them as many other 'What Car' threads have answered those queries. The 2 shortlisted cars are - Nexon & XUV300.

As you all know, these come only with the AMT gearbox and hence I will quickly come to the questions:

  • Is it possible (or advisable) to drive the AMT as a manual in the long term? Since my wife is a sedate driver and will be driving only in the city, she can use it on AMT mode, while when I am driving I can use the manual mode. Please note that even in the city it will be me who will be driving most of the time when we both commute to office together. It's just that the AT option has to be there, in case my wife is driving alone.
  • Is the AMT good enough on steep hills? Will the gear auto upshift even if I have switched to manual mode?
  • Is any AMT gearbox good enough to last 10-12 years? I know they haven't been around too long in mainstream vehicles so I can understand if there is no clear answer to this.
  • Is overtaking really too much of a pain with AMT cars?

Some important conditions that went into shortlisting:

  • Should be able to seat 5 comfortably.
  • Longish vehicles like City / Verna are to be avoided as my wife is not very good at parking and manoeuvring tight spots.
  • AC should be effective as I like the cabin pretty chilled.
  • Budget is 13-14 L OTR Bangalore

Magnite and Kiger were rejected because of longevity / support confidence. S-Cross is a strong contender, but new variant ambiguity (FOMO) is playing on my mind.

I would also love to know the views of Nexon / XUV300 owners on the quality of headlamps used. Is the illumination adequate?

Looking forward to your views.

Here's what BHPian EvilZombie had to say about the matter:

XUV 300 is a great option and the AMT does the job pretty well IMO. My 2cents on your queries.

I drive mostly with manual mode, and can seamlessly throw her in auto mode whenever I feel like. I don't know about a long-term effect as I’ve had her for 2 yrs now.

On manual mode, it won't auto up shift, but if you slow down it will auto downshift. I have not faced any issues with overtaking on the highway or in the city. I have done a few short trips on the ghats and she has behaved perfectly in manual mode whether going uphill or downhill.

The hill hold works like a charm and is extremely useful in choke block traffic, especially on inclines like getting on a flyover.

AC is chilly on the front but there are no rear AC vents. I haven’t found this to be a major concern but would have been a good to have feature.

At your budget, I’d suggest going for the W8 which has most of the nice features. I don't know if the W8 (o) will fit in that budget and you may have to stretch a bit. Diesel is more expensive but totally worth it and probably the best in this segment.

The headlamps are okay but not the best.

Overall a very competent car and fun to drive. You probably find reasons to do a road trip whenever you can.

Nexon is also a great car. Reasons I didn't go with Nexon is because I found the seating more comfortable in XUV and the ride quality much better, especially in the city.

Here's what BHPian Rajeevraj had to say about the matter:

By its very nature, AMT is not the best choice for the considerations you have in mind. My brother-in-law owns a Nexon AMT and I have also driven it extensively. Even being an AMT, it does a great job in most situations, but where I do feel it lacking is in hilly and steep areas-being an AMT there is no hill-hold and like a typical AMT, sometimes it has a mind of its own when shifting-especially in urgent situations. Of course, you can drive it in manual as you mentioned, but then I don't see the point. An automatic car should do the job in AT mode at least 70-80% of the time.

In summary, the Nexon is a great car and gets most of the things right, but the one area where the AMT struggles (based on my personal experience) fall right into one of your key requirements. Again in my personal view, overtaking sometimes is a pain in AMT cars, but the Nexon's engine manages to mask the inefficiency of the AMT to a great extent.

I think the Venue and Sonet also meet your need and come with a turbo petrol and a proper AT? Any reason to drop those?

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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